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Posted by Neil Brunskill
There was a rise in crime targeting rural areas last year when compared with 2010, new figures have shown.
NFU Mutual looked at its claims data for homes, farms, commercial premises and vehicles in the countryside and found theft there cost an estimated £52.7 million in 2011.
This is a six per cent rise when compared with 2010 and is likely to have been caused by the poor economic climate and increasing commodity prices.
Supplies most likely to be targeted included power tools, heating oil, red diesel, quad bikes and livestock, with 76 per cent of respondents to NFU's survey saying they are more worried about crime than they were 12 months ago.
This comes after the same insurer teamed up with Invenio Research to speak to criminals who had been caught stealing from rural areas.
They discovered that increasingly sophisticated methods are being employed to target farms and other countryside properties, with some thieves posing as labourers to scout out items of high value.
However, rural dwellers told NFU in the new poll that they are taking action to try and prevent their homes and livelihoods being affected by crime.
Some said they have begun keeping geese to chase away intruders, while others have mixed in aggressive llamas with other livestock. A few have even started keeping items such as quad bikes in pens with large bulls to deter criminals.
"The countryside has long been seen as an easy target for criminals. Encouragingly, country folk are not taking the blight lying down," said NFU Mutual's Lindsay Sinclair.
While this fighting spirit is admirable, it is a good idea to bring in a few high-tech security measures to protect valuable property too.
Tank alarms and padlocks are available for heating oil storage, while security lights could also act as a deterrent.
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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