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Posted by Neil Brunskill
Thieves are increasingly targeting the countryside because of a lack of security there compared to cities, new research has found.
A study carried out by Invenio Research and NFU Mutual involved criminologists interviewing criminals who had been convicted of things like burglary.
They found increasingly manipulative tactics being used by the perpetrators in order to gain access to properties and scout commodities they could steal.
For example, some used village fetes and festivals to 'hide in plain sight' and identify victims.
Others approached farmers and offered to help with pest control on their land. They could then freely walk around and find which areas were unprotected and therefore presented opportunities to take key items like heating oil, red diesel and even tractors.
Several said the lack of CCTV made the countryside easier to target than the city, while others pointed out that many rural dwellers do not pay attention to people walking around in overalls with toolboxes, especially in the summer when there is a big influx of visitors.
NFU Mutual chairman Richard Percy said: "It is a sad fact, but countryside communities face an ongoing fight against crime."
He urged people to take steps to prevent this wherever possible.
"Making outbuildings more secure is an effective deterrent and taking the time to mark more valuable items will make it much easier to trace thieves and return property to the rightful owner should it ever be stolen," Mr Percy added.
It is estimated that around 84,500 rural crimes take place every month.
Last month, a spokesperson from the Police Service of Northern Ireland warned heating oil customers to take extra care with the fuel, as there has been a spate of thefts of the commodity lately, the Newton Abbey Times reported.
He explained that it makes good economic sense to protect it and to keep an eye on neighbours' supplies too, advising countryside dwellers to watch for suspicious vehicles and to use security measures like padlocks or sensor lights.
If you have been the victim of a heating oil theft in the last year, visit BoilerJuice's new oil theft watch service to make an anonymous report or to register for free oil theft alerts in your area.
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