Cost of rural theft in NI falls

Tuesday, 3 August, 2021

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) says while it’s positive to see that the cost of rural theft in Northern Ireland fell by nearly 37 percent (estimated £2.1million) as highlighted in NFU Mutual’s rural crime report, farmers were still being targeted during the pandemic.

UFU deputy president David Brown said, “The impact of lockdown, thorough on-farm security and rural policing has created a significant drop in relation to the cost of rural theft. However, one farmer falling victim to rural crime is still one too many and sadly, criminals continued to steal agriculture vehicles, livestock and equipment. 

“This time of the year is extremely busy for our members, but we urge them to ensure their security is as tight as it possibly can be at all times and to be extra vigilant as restrictions continue to ease. With so much going on, things can slip easily, and what may seem like a small lapse can end up becoming a serious financial hit if farming machinery or animals are stolen. Not to mention the toll it can take on the farmer’s mental health and how it can affect the entire family.

“Checking livestock regularly, ensuring unused vehicles are locked, equipment is stored away and sheds are secure, are just a few simple measures that can help prevent rural theft.”

To help combat rural theft in Northern Ireland NFU Mutual are providing additional support.

“The news that NFU Mutual is providing funding worth £30,000 to help clamp down on rural theft here has been well received. We are looking forward to plans progressing so that farmers can make the most of the support,” said Mr Brown.

As a result of COVID-19, farmers across Northern Ireland witnessed an increase in the number of visitors to the countryside over the last year. The report shows that because of this, other crimes such as fly tipping and livestock worrying has also increased.

“It’s extremely disheartening that our farmers were not given the respect they deserve from some countryside visitors during the pandemic. The rural landscape is there for everyone to enjoy but unfortunately a number of our members were left to clean rubbish off their land which had the potential to harm livestock and the environment, while others had the horrific experience of dealing with a livestock worrying attack. Farmers work around the clock to provide high-quality food for consumers and these incidents cause unneeded stress professionally and personally. It’s important that countryside visitors are more considerate when out and about,” said Mr Brown.

The UFU encourages members who experience rural theft, fly tipping or livestock worrying to report it to the PSNI or their local dog warden.