Rural crime 'doubles in 12 months' in Hertfordshire
Rural crime increased more sharply in Hertfordshire than anywhere else in the country last year, according to insurance bosses.
In 2017 rural crime cost communities £987,000, up from £426,000 12 months earlier.
And the items most commonly targeted by thieves varied from tools to tractors and garden equipment.
John Langley, from the National Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Society Limited in Hertfordshire, admitted that rural communities were having to employ both new and traditional methods to combat the rising tide of crime.
He 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.”
Hertfordshire was one of three areas where rural crime more than doubled over the last year, the others being Surrey and the West Midlands.
Mr Langley added: “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.”
A spokesman for Herts Police said: “We are committed to tackling rural crime and we have highly-trained and experienced officers policing the rural areas, well-equipped with new technology, including mobile data devices, which give them live information about crime, criminals and the vehicles they use, so they can act immediately no matter where they are.
“We also like to keep in touch with our local residents and hold regular Barns Meets, inviting farmers and others with a vested interest, to allow them to talk directly to the chief constable and police and crime commissioner and our dedicated rural operational support team about their concerns. We can also feedback what we are doing to tackle crimes in their area.
“The constabulary was the first police force in the country to introduce and pioneer rural special constables.”