Rural crimes double in just six months

The update saw the insurer question rural-dwellers for the first time, enabling it to estimate the number of incidents that have taken place since January and the number of people affected – approximately 420,000.

The figures have been driven by a significant increase in thefts from residences and businesses – up from an estimated 145,116 crimes to 370,046 over the period.

The figures illustrate the growing problem of petty crime in the countryside, where a theft now occurs every 43 seconds, with each incident costing 27% more than in urban areas.

Offences are frequently opportunistic, with thieves targeting stocks of diesel and heating oil as well as scrap metal and livestock.

The figures are released today to supplement the recently published NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey, which questioned the insurer’s network of rural agents to reveal a 17% increase in "agri-crime" between January 2009 and December 2010.

In many cases, petty crime goes unreported, with nearly one in five (19%) incidents not reported to police or the victim’s insurer, according to the survey.

The research also suggests that a significant number of homeowners (28%) are ramping up home security to cope with this nuisance.

Lindsay Sinclair, Group Chief Executive of NFU Mutual, said: "The rural economy isn’t immune to the tough economic environment and rising unemployment coupled with spiralling commodity prices has made petty theft a major temptation for certain individuals.

"The good news is that country-people are wise to this menace and are taking sensible security precautions to help address it.

"We know that by working closely with the police, rural-dwellers can prevent crime, and we will continue to do everything we can to assist them."

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