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Rural crime levels down by 19%

Rural crime fell by nearly a fifth last year, but still cost an estimated £42.3 million across the UK, according to new figures.

The 19.7% drop in "agri-crime" was reported by leading rural insurer NFU Mutual, which said there was a significant fall in claim costs for tractor and quad bike thefts, down 32% and 17% respectively.

In contrast, there was a slight increase in claim levels for livestock theft, but nothing like the three-fold increase experienced the previous year.

The figures have been released to coincide with the publication of the annual NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey, a nationwide study involving 220 of its branch offices located throughout the UK countryside.

Matthew Scott, chief claims manager, said: "It's great news that after four years of rises rural crime fell significantly last year. The fall is a vindication of the tremendous efforts made by country people, police, NFU Mutual and agriculture vehicle manufacturers to improve security and beat crime."

He warned country people not to become complacent and to continue to make security a priority on their farms, businesses and homes.

"Rural crime is still taking place at significant levels. In 2013, whilst numbers of thefts are slowly declining, we have seen some worrying spikes in high-value tractor thefts - and a recent spate of tractor GPS guidance system thefts showing that thieves will steal anything of value from farms.

"At NFU Mutual we work closely with country people to improve security and beat crime. To date, NFU Mutual has invested more than £400,000 funding police specialist units to co-ordinate activity on agricultural vehicle crime for the good of the whole industry."

Items most commonly targeted by rural thieves remain largely unchanged, with tools, quad bikes and oil/diesel again topping the list.

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