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England's Green and Pleasant Land

It's sad, but rural crime is on the increase – rising 70% last year alone, according to research. They are now stealing property ranging from diesel fuel, horse tack and trailers to scrap metal, tractors and livestock. Even cows are now no longer sacred.

Rural homes, businesses and farms are all targets for thieves. Quad bikes, powers tools, Land Rovers, tractors and trailers topped the national poll of most stolen items. The British Crime Survey reports a 9% overall fall in crime in England and Wales last year – making the huge rise in rural crime seem even more outrageous.

An Englishman's home is his castle – but long gone now are the days when farmers left their doors unlocked – and the likes of old Pa' Larkin trundled around the country lanes without a care in the world! Unlikely as it may seem, thieves now follow fuel tankers from their depots to see where they are delivering fuel – and then returning after dark to help themselves to the tank contents. A neat tip is to disguise the tank by growing shrubs (prickly, if possible!) and erecting fencing to hide the tank. Add a locking cap where possible – and alarm systems are available which warn if the oil level drops suddenly. The tank may be too far away for you to hear it, but it should put the wind up the thief!

Thieves have been known to wait in the undergrowth and pounce once the farmers and workers return to the farmhouse for lunch – taking the opportunity to strip unlocked workshops of chainsaws, welding equipment, hedge trimmers, power tools – anything they can move to sell. It is worth remembering not to leave equipment on site either, for the same reasons.

We have now seen the emergence of the 'booze night burglars' – this crafty mob bet on the fact that the police will be busy with market town revellers on a Friday and Saturday night and therefore they are safe to target rural properties on these nights. Criminals also rely on the fact that the police response may be so slow they can make an excellent get away around the winding country lanes. This proves the thieves are very wily, adding weight to the belief that more than two thirds of rural crime is planned and well executed.

Research indicates the top ten most stolen items to be:

Quad bikes
Power tools
Land Rovers/4x4
Scrap metal
Lawnmowers/garden tools
Horse tack

So what can you do? We mentioned disguising oil tanks, a few other pointers are:

Farm and Outbuildings

>Restrict access to your farm land and property with locked gates
>Ensure your home, farm and outbuildings are secure. Use British Standard locks and high security closed-shackle padlocks
>Consider fitting intruder alarms, CCTV and good outside security lighting, check regularly and ensure they work
>Lock windows and doors, remove keys from locks and keep out of visible reach
>Mark equipment and property with farm name and postcode, use a UV pen, engraving, stamping , tagging or forensic marking
>Hide valuable items from view and secure in a locked outbuilding
>Consider joining your local Farmwatch scheme

Vehicles, Trailers and Quad Bikes

>Secure and immobilise vehicles and equipment when not in use
>Remove keys from the ignition and keep them somewhere secure
>Don't leave quad bikes or trailers unattended
>Consider storing vehicles and property in a secured building, if possible secured to the wall or floor, or inside a caged area
>Mark trailers and property with farm name and postcode, use a UV pen, engraving, stamping, tagging or forensic marking

Some General Tips

>Where possible, install fuel tanks within secure buildings or cages made from a material resistant to attack
>Thieves may stake-out your property in advance by making up an excuse to call round. Try to take a note of their registration number and report the incident to police
>Never advertise you are away by leaving notes for tradesmen or delivery drivers >Ensure you have adequate insurance cover
>When you are away, ask neighbours and friends to keep an eye on your property – and be prepared to do the same for them
>Report any suspicious behaviour to the police


Insurance is paramount. There is a host of providers out there, but you need to be selective. Phone Westhill Insurance Services, they will listen to your concerns and be able to provide you with the type of cover you need to deal with today's problems. Whilst there are specialists providers in the market place, it pays to shop around and to talk to companies who are not tied to one single provider. As the rural community is targeted more and more by the criminal fraternity, companies with a more general knowledge can perhaps provide solutions which have not previously needed to be applied to this community.

We need to keep our countryside and its community safe. To protect our rural idyll we need advice, so contact Westhill Insurance Services and have confidence in their good, sensible advice. Don't wait until the cows come home, give a call now.

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 17th March, 2011