Although rural crime cost the Northern Ireland economy £3.9m last year, it appears Tyrone is not worst hit by the scourge of machinery and livestock thieves.
Rural crime figures were published this week (Aug 11), following confirmation from farm insurer NFU Mutual, which provides cover for around 80% of Ulster’s farmers.
The cost, which has risen substantially from £3.4m (15%) in 2012, includes the theft of high and low value farm machinery, and animals from farms in all six counties of Northern Ireland.
While Ulster Farmers’ Union President, Ian Marshall, has stressed how this is becoming more of an issue, a spokesman for NFU Mutual said that Northern Ireland is the worst affected area within the UK.
“Northern Ireland has a land border and other areas don’t,” he said.
Describing the crimes, he said that very few stolen animals were recovered alive, whilst equipment - stolen in the dead of night - was “often going on to ships within hours of being taken from the field”.
In Tyrone, rural crime cost £590,000 in 2013, but Antrim (£1.2m), Armagh (£920k) and Down (£850k) were the worst affected counties.
Fermanagh suffered the least crime (£100k), while Derry lost £380k worth of machinery and livestock.
UFU President, Ian Marshall said; “The rural crime figures indicate that this is a major issue which must be dealt with head on. “The unfortunate reality is that farmers are having valuable livestock and machinery stolen on a regular basis which is having a devastating impact on their businesses and families.
“These statistics however won’t shock farmers who know from experience that theft from farm yards and livestock from fields is an all-too common and costly occurrence,” he added.
“I can’t stress enough the importance of being vigilant and would advise farmers to take the necessary precautions to ensure tools, machinery, livestock, equipment and property are secure.”
Precautions that can be taken by farmers, that could also provide substantial discounts on farm insurance include, CESAR marking, which is a nationally identified tagging system, and also the use of tracking devices, according to NFU Mutual.
The UFU are organising a major rural crime conference at the Crumlin Road Gaol on the November 4, 2014.