Workshop to tackle 'devastating' crime

PUBLISHED: 13:30 15 January 2015

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A SPATE of rural thefts in Somerset has prompted a countryside insurance company to host a farm security day.

The Rooksbridge branch of NFU Mutual is hosting the event, which is aimed at adding security to countryside homes and businesses.

Mike House, NFU Mutual Agent for the Rooksbridge area, said: “Our experience with people who live and work in rural areas of Somerset clearly shows that theft is more than just a setback – it can be devastating for businesses and families.”

The cost of rural crime in the county rose from £1.1million in 2012 to £1.2million in 2013, and is expected to have risen again by about nine per cent in 2014.

The insurer’s annual survey showed the nationwide cost of rural crime totalled an estimated £44.5million in 2013.

Tools, quad bikes and trailers are among the most popular for thieves, probably because they are portable and have a high retail value.

But thieves have also targeted fuel, tractors and chemicals such as pesticides and fertiliser.

Avon and Somerset police launched several schemes to try to tackle crime in the countryside and introduced a new rural crime team in May last year.

More than 75 farms in the region are also part of Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s Farm Watch scheme, an initiative designed to encourage communication among farms and countryside communities.

In recent years NFU Mutual has helped bring down tractor theft by funding a special police unit and helping farmers protect their equipment with security systems such as CESAR marking and Tracker.

Mr House said: “There’s a lot of concern in the community about the recent spate of thefts, so we decided to bring together the Avon and Somerset police rural crime team, NFU Mutual’s rural security experts and specialist security firms to provide a forum to discuss local crime trends and offer advice.”

Top tips for staying secure will be given at the free advice session which is due to be held from 10.30am-1pm today (Thursday) at East Huntspill Village Hall in Church Road.

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