THE cost of rural theft in Cumbria was just under £730,000 last year, a fall of 30 per cent from the previous year, says leading rural insurer NFU Mutual.

But according to its Rural Crime Report, published this week, Cumbria was the most targeted county for quad theft last year as criminals turned their sights back to these ‘easily portable, hot-ticket items’ to capitalise on growing the waiting lists and soaring market values.

To help tackle crime in Cumbria, NFU Mutual is supporting the Partners in Preventing Farm Crime project which trains young farmers to identify farm rural crime risks and put in place practical security actions to prevent them from becoming victims of crime.

The initiative is the brainchild of Joe Murray QPM, chair of the Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association (CNWA). A retired police officer, he had seen NFU Mutual’s Rural Crime advice on how communities could work together to beat rural crime. He came up with the idea of involving young farmers’ club members to spread the message and worked with Cumbria YFC County chairman Robbie Tuer to bring the scheme to fruition.

Claims indications for the first quarter of this year show a rise in the cost of rural crime in both the North West and England as a whole.

Michael Barnes, Cumbria NFU Mutual Agent, said: “Our latest UK claims figures warn that rural theft is quickly gathering momentum as criminals make up for time lost over the past two pandemic years. We’re urging rural people to review their security, to help prevent crime and disruption.

“With prices of essential farm equipment such as quads and tractors rising fast and the cost of diesel soaring over the past year, there’s little doubt that criminals will be trying to steal from farms. We also know that essentials of rural living like heating oil tanks will only become more attractive to thieves as costs rise. A recent poll by NFU Mutual reveals that 89 percent of respondents believe inflation will lead to an increase in rural crime.

“NFU Mutual is responding by helping those living and working in rural areas to put in place effective security measures and by continuing to provide major support to enable dedicated resources to tackle crime. We’re pleased to be supporting the Partners in Preventing Farm Crime Project in Cumbria.”