THE cost of rural crime in Dorset spiralled to £888,154 last year, the latest study has showed.

This figure, highlighted in NFU Mutual’s annual Rural Crime Report which is published today (August 6), represents a 45.9 per cent rise compared to 2016.

Items most commonly targeted by thieves in Dorset over the past 12 months, according to the report, were quad bikes, all-terrain vehicles, tools and 4x4s.

Evidence has been uncovered suggesting organised gangs are behind a significant proportion of these crime, with some vehicles being shipped out of the UK and sold abroad.

Nigel Cryer, NFU Mutual Agent in Dorset, said: “Countryside criminals continue to become more brazen and farmers are now having to continually increase security and adopt new ways of protecting their equipment.”

The report also reveals limited police resources and repeat attacks are the biggest fears for people in rural communities, with many forced to change the way they live and work as a result of rural crime.

Mr Cryer said: “The threat of becoming a victim of rural crime, and regular reports of suspicious characters watching farms is causing high levels of anxiety amongst farmers who know their rural location makes them vulnerable to attacks.

“Our advice to people living and working in the countryside is to regularly evaluate your current security measures making improvements where necessary, remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the local police and local farm watch schemes.”

Despite some regional differences, overall rural theft costs rose nationally by 13.4 per cent in 2017.

As the main insurer of the countryside, NFU Mutual says it has responded to its members’ concerns about rural crime by supporting local and national rural security initiatives and investing more than £1.2m to tackle rural crime.

Mr Cryer explained: “Social media is fast becoming the new eyes and ears of the countryside. By keeping in close touch with neighbours and police through local farmwatch schemes country people can play a significant role in identifying suspicious activity and bringing thieves to justice.

“Fitting gates to prevent easy access to farm yards and drives is one of the most effective measures. High-tech security such as movement detectors, infra-red cameras and ‘geo-fencing’, which triggers an alarm if a farm vehicle moves off the premises, can also play a part.”

For more information and advice on how to beat rural crime in your area download the report at