Warning issued over rural crime across the Devon and Cornwall region

A rural crime warning has been issued by NFU Mutual Picture: Getty Images/Archant

A rural crime warning has been issued by NFU Mutual Picture: Getty Images/Archant - Credit: Picture: Getty Images/Archant

Crime gangs are targeting the Devon countryside and elsewhere, stealing quad bikes, tractors and machinery.

A rural crime warning has been issued by NFU Mutual, urging farmers and rural businesses to be on high alert because of organised criminal gangs.

The leading rural insurer is joining forces with Devon and Cornwall Police’s Rural Affairs team asking the public to be vigilant and farmers to protect agricultural machinery and vehicles from thieves.

Figures from NFU Mutual reveal that agricultural vehicle theft in the UK cost £7.4million in 2018.

Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist for NFU Mutual in the South West, said: “When the nation is relying on our farmers to keep providing food during the coronavirus pandemic, it is shocking to hear of incidents of rural crime.

“Unfortunately, organised criminals have no respect for the challenges the countryside faces and they continue to target rural and isolated parts of the South West.

“We have seen smaller, more portable items topping the thieves’ wish list in recent months so it is important to be aware.

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“The good news is that reports of information from the public, along with farmers’ use of trackers and vehicle marking, are helping to tackle rural crime.”

Chris Collins, rural affairs officer for Devon and Cornwall Police, added: “Latest figures show that the theft of agricultural plant and vehicles continues, in particular with the theft of smaller vehicles such as quad bikes, tractors and navigation systems.

“This has a financial and emotional impact on rural businesses and their families, impacting on animal welfare and food production.”

Devon and Cornwall Police have laid out a simple six-point plan to help prevent rural crime:

? Enjoy the countryside and help protect farmers by following the countryside code.

? Keep a record of serial numbers, and photograph equipment showing identity and unique features.

? Immobilise vehicles and machinery in a lockable building with the keys removed and secured.

? Utilise property marking and fit trackers. Remove tractor GPS systems when not in use.

? Anyone able to offer information is asked to email 101@dc.police.uk, call 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 08007 830 137.

? Join Devon and Cornwall Alert and Farm Watch so that we can tell you what is happening in your area.