The cost of rural crime is on the increase according to a new report from one the UK's biggest farm insurers. South Lakes MP Tim Farron has said more must be done to deal with rural crime.
A survey carried out by NFU Mutual, released in August, showed an increase of 5.2% in rural crime, costing Britain £44.5m in 2013.
Cumbria saw a rise of 39% in 2013. Across the north west, rural crime is estimated to have cost £4.4m last year, a rise of 13 per cent. Livestock thefts were also up nationally - by about 25 per cent - as problems with sheep increased, with the north west a particular problem area.
The figures have prompted a renewed plea for farmers and others living in the countryside to be more vigilant and security conscious.
Nationally, the NFU's Rural Crime Survey found that the cost of crime to the rural economy was £44.5m in 2013 - up 5.2 per cent on 2012. Matthew Scott, chief claims manager at NFU Mutual, said: "Much of this increase is from tractors - often worth up to £80,000 - being targeted by organised gangs. These machines are not only valuable, but they are also essential to running a farm and are sorely missed.
Tim said: "I am very concerned at the large increase in rural crime which is taking place in Cumbria. The theft of livestock, fuel, or farm equipment such as tractors or ATVs can have a devastating impact on a farming business, many of whom are already operating on very tight margins. I want to see Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner taking this issue seriously and working with farmers to stop the criminals in their tracks."
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