The cost of rural theft in Northern Ireland amounted to £3.3m in 2019, an increase of 18%, a rural crime report by the National Farmers Union (NFU) Mutual has shown.
Speaking about the report, the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said these figures highlight the significant upsurge in the cost of rural theft, with criminal gangs targeting expensive tractors, quads and livestock.
The UFU suggests ongoing thefts will cause those living in rural areas to become fearful, with crime escalating even further due to the economic impact of COVID-19.
UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: “The financial loss of rural crime can threaten the livelihoods of farming families overnight, not to mention have a lasting impact on their wellbeing.
The financial loss of rural crime can threaten the livelihoods of farming families overnight
“Many farmers and rural dwellers across the country are living in constant fear, unable to gain peace of mind in their own homes and farms because of these reoccurring thefts.”
The UFU has encouraged farmers to take practical steps to help prevent rural crime. Chestnutt encouraged “farmers and rural dwellers to work together with the PSNI and wider local community, reporting all incidences of rural crime and sharing any information."
“Make sure all farm machinery and vehicles are safely locked away, especially those of high value. Never leave a tractor or quad sitting unattended with the keys in the ignition or close by.”
There were 374 cases of agricultural crime reported to police in NI last year, figures published by the PSNI indicate.
Many farmers and rural dwellers across the country are living in constant fear
The total number of agricultural crime incidents in 2019 is down 7% year-on-year, which equates to 29 fewer cases.
Across the 11 policing districts in NI, cases of agricultural crime continue to be most prevalent in Newry, Mourne and Down, with 61 incidents reported during 2019.
Meanwhile in the republic, gardaí are requesting information on the theft of side and top covers of a Welger RP200 baler. The theft took place in Cloghan, Co Offaly, between 15 and 31 July.
Gardaí have suggested the covers were “probably stolen for a similar machine, if you are offered similar or have any information please contact Birr Garda Station.”