Sussex has seen an increase in insurance claims as a result of rural crime according to a new report.
While a table released by NFU Mutual shows a decrease for some counties, East and West Sussex figures have risen.
The 2014 East Sussex claims total (rounded to the nearest £1,00k£1m) was £360,000, up from the previous year’s £300,000.
The figure for West Sussex is £520,000, up from £410,000.
Overall, though, the cost of rural crime has gone down according to NFU Mutual’s annual claims data.
The cost to the UK economy in 2014 was a not-insignificant £37.8 million. However, this was down from £44.5 million, or 15 per cent, on the previous year.
Looking at the overall picture, Tim Price, of NFU Mutual, said: “There are now padlocks on gates, security lighting in yards and in some cases CCTV. Farmers and their families are feeling incredibly vulnerable to rural crime — it has become a major obsession and affects the way they live.”
“This is an organised criminal enterprise. Before 2010, most cases were local and involved up to a dozen sheep - now 100 or more are being stolen at a time. People are coming equipped with a vehicle capable of carrying them and the skills to round them up.
“The suspicion is that at least some are being slaughtered outside the heavily regulated meat processing industry and then fed into the food chain.”
“The groups also appear to move from one area of the country to another depending on the level of awareness and police attention,” Mr Price added.
Quad bike thefts has jumped from £1 million in 2010 to nearly double that in 2014
“Five years ago most tractor manufacturers supplied a key that would fit any model — that was convenient for farmers but also for thieves.
“Now they have same sort of security as an expensive car, including immobilisers and tracking systems. However, quad bikes are much harder to secure.”
“They are a criminal’s dream - they are worth a lot of money, they can easily fit in the back of a Transit van, and there is demand across the world,” Mr Price said.
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