NORTH Yorkshire farmers fear that inflation will lead to more thefts of essential farming equipment as rural crimes increase from last year.

Rural insurer, NFU Mutual, has revealed in its 2022 Rural Crime Report that the cost of such offending in North Yorkshire fell by 32 per cent in 2021 from the previous year.

However, figures from the first quarter of 2022 show a 40 per cent rise in the cost of rural crime UK-wide compared to the same period last year.

A recent poll by NFU Mutual revealed that 89 per cent of respondents believe inflation will lead to an increase in rural crime, as prices of essential farming equipment and the cost of diesel have soared over the past year.

York Press: Farmers are fearing more thefts of farming equipment Picture: NFU MutualFarmers are fearing more thefts of farming equipment Picture: NFU Mutual

Claire Radley, Agent at NFU Mutual Skipton, said: “Crime in the countryside causes high levels of anxiety and disruption, with many farmers and rural homeowners feeling vulnerable due to their isolated location.

“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.

“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.

“We’re working closely with police and the farming community to share information, help protect property and raise awareness.”

Last year, NFU Mutual received reports that thefts of high-value farm machinery and vehicles from UK farmyards cost over £9 million.

The cost of thefts of Land Rover Defender vehicles shot up by 87 per cent nationally, as the value of second hand cars and replacement parts increased.

York Press: thefts of high-value farm machinery and vehicles from UK farmyards cost over £9 million last year say NFU Mutual Picture: NFU Mutualthefts of high-value farm machinery and vehicles from UK farmyards cost over £9 million last year say NFU Mutual Picture: NFU Mutual

Last year, NFU Mutual saw the cost of stolen quad bikes and all-terrain vehicles fall by 11 per cent, although almost half of these thefts occurred from September to December.

The effects of Covid and Brexit contributing to low supply meant thieves have wanted to capitalise on growing waiting lists and soaring market values.

Claire added: “As each farm or home is different, every property needs a different approach to keeping thieves out - and there’s an armoury of measures to help do so, from traditional fortification, to technology using movement sensors, to community information networks.”

Record high prices for diesel and heating oil has meant that the frequency and cost of fuel theft claims have more than doubled in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period last year.

Thefts of farm animals has also become more lucrative for criminal gangs, with the latest analysis showing that animals worth an estimated £2.4 million were stolen in 2021.

Soaring food prices could mean that livestock theft now increases, raising concerns about food security, animal welfare and health due to the stolen animals being slaughtered in unhygienic conditions.

The North East was the third most affeted English region by cost, at £6.7 million in the first quarter of 2022, followed by the Midlands at £8.4 million and the South East at £7.5 million.