LEADING agricultural insurance company NFU Mutual is urging farmers in Cumbria to be vigilant during the recent fuel crisis.

Rebecca Davidson, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Diesel is essential to keep agriculture running and to keep the nation fed. We have found that price rises and fuel shortages in the past have seen thieves target farms.

“We are urging farmers to be vigilant and to strengthen security, in case a prolonged shortage sees fuel thieves return to the countryside. In 2020, even during a year of lockdowns, thieves continued to steal fuel in large quantities and our claims data has found the average cost of diesel theft in the countryside was £2,120. In 2019 the average was £2,327.

“Fuel theft not only grinds farm work to a halt but criminals often cause damage getting into tanks and spilling fuel. Often the consequence of attack is escape of fuel with the potential for serious pollution problems, which are difficult and extremely costly to clean up and which may present increased fire risks.”

NFU Mutual is investing over £430,000 in carefully targeted initiatives to tackle rural crime this year. This work includes sponsoring two trials of connected farms using LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network) technology.