Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Farmers Hit by 'Daylight Robbery' as Cost of Rural Crime Rises

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Farmers Hit by 'Daylight Robbery' as Cost of Rural Crime Rises

Article excerpt

Byline: Ruth Lognonne Reporter

FARMERS say they feel "targeted" by opportunist thieves as figures reveal the cost of rural crime in the North East shot up last year.

The cost of thefts from farms across Northumberland and County Durham rose by 12% in 2013, costing the regional economy an estimated PS840,000, compared with PS750,000 a year earlier.

Farm insurer NFU Mutual's rural crime survey says the most common items targeted by thieves in the North East over the last 12 months were quad bikes, metal, and horse transport and equipment.

Malcolm Corbett, who chairs the British Wool Marketing Board and is a farmer in Rochester, Northumberland, had his quad bike stolen overnight in November.

Mr Corbett always believed his farm was too remote to be affected by crime, but following a spate of thefts from farms nearby in recent months, the sheep farmer has taken preventative action.

"Thieves seem to be targeting farms during the day," he told The Journal. "They come on to farms with the pretext that they're going to paint your shed or are looking to buy scrap.

"If the farmer fails to appear, these thieves use the opportunity to scope the place out.

"If there's time, they load up what they can get their hands on and they're gone.

"Other times, they wait until the farmer has gone out for the day and they go back.

"I have heard a lot of reports from farmers in the area who had items taken on the day Hexham Mart held its big Beef Expo event recently.

"My quad bike was taken on a wet and windy night when the thieves knew my collie dog wouldn't hear them coming.

"These are high-value items with a decent quad bike costing anywhere between PS4,000 and PS5,000.

"I've now built a lock-up with a steel door for the bike to go in, but if the thief wants something, they'll find a way of getting it. …

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