Rural theft across Hampshire is 'quickly gathering momentum' police and insurers warn

RURAL theft is ‘quickly gathering momentum’ as criminals seek to ‘make up for lost time’ since the pandemic, police and insurers have warned.

By Sophie Lewis
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 2:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th August 2022, 2:51 pm

Leading insurer NFU Mutual revealed that last year rural theft cost Hampshire more than £1.1m.

Hampshire police said: ‘The impact rural crime has on farmers and landowners is not lost on us and we take reports of incidents extremely seriously.

Rural crime is on the rise as the cost of living soars. Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images

‘We have seen an increase in the theft of high-value items such as quad bikes, agricultural and plant machinery across the region, with a number of targeted operations having been carried out.’

Land Rover Defenders are proving particularly popular with thieves who have been stripping them for parts or stealing them to sell on as second-hand vehicles, NFU said.

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The insure also raised fears that the theft of farm animals will be on the rise, with last year estimated to have seen £2.4m worth of livestock being snatched.

Patrick Govier, Agent at NFU Mutual Alton, said: ‘Our latest claims figures warn that rural theft is quickly gathering momentum as criminals make up for time lost over the past two pandemic years.

‘With prices of essential farm equipment such as tractors and quads rising fast and the cost of diesel soaring over the past year, there’s little doubt that criminals will be trying to steal from farms.

‘Crime in the countryside causes high levels of anxiety and disruption, with many farmers and rural homeowners feeling vulnerable due to their isolated location.

‘The knowledge that determined thieves are scouring the countryside looking for targets, and returning to carry out night-time raids, leads to sleepless nights for many in remote areas.’

Hampshire police added: ‘Reports such as this one by NFU Mutual are important in ensuring the public are aware of the types of crimes impacting these communities and to help those who could be affected by it understand how they may avoid this.

‘Alongside partner agencies, we will continue this effort to bring those responsible for acts of rural crime to justice, and ensure these communities continue to feel safe.’