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Rural Crime in the UK

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Several recent UK media reports have highlighted that worryingly, there has been an increasing rise in rural crime in the UK, over the past year, which saw rural crime at an eight year high.  This has cost the UK approximately £54 million in 2019 alone, a 9 percent increase on 2018, with further increases again this year. (

What is Rural Crime?

Rural crime generally falls into one of the four following categories:

  • Agricultural: this includes crimes such as, farm machinery theft, fuel theft, livestock theft (rustling), damage to property.

  • Equine: this covers working stables / equestrian centres and includes, livestock theft, livestock worrying, tack theft.

  • Wildlife: this would include crimes such as poaching or interfering with protected species of animals or plants.

  • Heritage: those crime which cause damage to heritage sites, such as, theft from, or damage to churches, or illegal metal detecting.

In addition to these main four categories, rural crime could also include environmental crimes, such as fly-tipping, of which, there has been a surge in during lockdown, according to the NFU.

Most Common Crimes

The most common crimes, particularly over the course of the past year, according to NFU Mutual, were those that fall into the agricultural crimes’ category, with a marked rise in the theft of expensive farm equipment and machinery, such as, tractors and quad bikes.  There has also been a spike in the theft of livestock (rustling) over the past year, which reportedly worsened during the Covid-19 lockdown period.

Worst Affected Areas

Impacting all countries of the UK, there have been large increases in rural crime recorded in Scotland and Northern Ireland, with every one of England’s counties seeing a rise with Lincolnshire, Essex and North Yorkshire being the worst hit.

Rural Crime Prevention

As with all crime, there are several measures that people can make to reduce the risk of being targeted and being a victim of rural crime, these include:

  1. Ensure the security of your equipment and machinery:

  • Keep machinery locked in secure buildings when not in use.

  • Install burglar alarms to buildings.

  • Install security lights

  • Use hitch locks, wheel clamps and ground anchors.

  • Register your tools and equipment

  • Consider installing CCTV


  1. Ensure the security of your buildings and land:

  • Secure your buildings with appropriate, strong and up-to-date locks.

  • Regular maintenance of doors and windows.

  • Install bars and grilles on windows

  • Use locking posts or temporary obstructions to control wide access points to yards

  • Install modern security technologies

  • Regularly maintain and check security technologies.

  • Install thorny hedgerow at land boundaries

  • Dig ditches at land boundaries

  • You should immediately report any suspicious activity you see on or around your land or property to the police


  1. Ensure the security of livestock:

  • Regularly check livestock and their surrounding area, checking to see if fences or hedgerow has been breached

  • Always use livestock monitoring equipment and tagging

  • Regular maintaince of fencing and animal housing

  • Consider installing CCTV and other security technologies

The above are just a few examples of rural crime protection measures.  Many police and agriculture websites also contain much useful advice and information on how to reduce the risk of being impacted by rural crime, Eg:

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