Rural crime: safeguard your business from miscreants & mischief

It’s hard to open a farming magazine or log onto a news website at the moment without seeing details of increasing crime levels, localised spates of theft, vandalism, arson or fly-tipping. AF takes a look at the reasons for, and solutions to, the surge in rural crime.


A tsunami of rural crime!

We reported in AF Gleanings on 17th August a spate of five telehandler thefts in Shropshire, the effects of the Ukraine war as a trigger for a rural crimewave, and that the crime report for 2022 highlighted rural theft had surged by a quarter.

Every week seems to bring more reports of theft and antisocial behaviour, with the common complaint that this costs farmers time and money.


But why?

Obviously at the lowest level selfishness and greed are a motivator for petty theft, fly tipping, vandalism and other ‘minor’ offences. However, according to the police the more sophisticated crimes are driven by demand overseas for high value equipment, particularly in countries affected by trade embargoes such as Russia and Belarus.

And for high value thefts, criminals have come up with high tech tactics. The theft of a number of GPS units, from a single contractor in Oxfordshire earlier this year, is believed to have been preceded by a drone ‘survey’.

The victim of the crime, Robert Redman, noticed a drone flying over his yard a week or two before the theft, and reported  thieves went straight to buildings and machines with the GPS, which they then quickly and calmly stole before making their get-away.

PC Chris Shelley, Op Randall Rural Crime Officer, confirms “We are currently seeing a few more ‘organised’ style crimes, whereby plant and machinery is stolen and is likely finding its way to Russia. GPS remains our real threat and as such we have this month (October 2023) produced this leaflet.”


What can YOU do?

A lot of what you can do to protect your property is common sense, as advised by NFU Mutual and police forces:

  1. Remove GPS guidance receivers, aerials and antenna globes from tractors when not in use, and keep them in a secure locked place
  2. Fit security tethers or brackets to stop units being removed
  3. Mark your post code on GPS units, either with a UV pen, engraving tool of forensic marking system
  4. Store machinery in locked buildings whenever possible
  5. Where locking machines away isn’t an option, fit mains or battery-operated alarms to cover around the perimeter of areas where machines are stored
  6. Check your CCTV and intruder alarms regularly to ensure they work when you need them, and are placed where they won’t be triggered by animals or foliage moving in the wind
  7. Record machinery serial numbers and photograph kit to help police identify stolen items, and increase the chances of them being recovered
  8. Involve employees in the security arrangements, and what is expected of them while working on the farm
  9. Join local Farmwatch or social media security groups to keep in touch with rural crime trends in your area
  10. Encourage farm staff to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour or vehicles to the police on 101, or 999 in an emergency


You can’t always see what has been stolen

Cyber crime against all sizes of business is on the increase. Recently AF Head of Member Services, Louis Clabburn, spent time with the Eastern Cyber Resilience Centre. They offer free advice for AF Members on how to keep your business safe from cyber crime.

They have given us five simple things you can do to protect yourselves from a cyber attack:

Step 1 – Back up your data

Step 2 – Protect your organisation from malware

Step 3 – Keep your smartphones (and tablets) safe

Step 4 – Use passwords to protect your data

Step 5 – Avoid phishing attacks

You can find out a lot more if you follow the above link to their website.


And how can AF help?

A determined thief will always find a way, but AF can help you make it harder for them. Contact your AF General Inputs by email to or call 01603 881 914, who can supply everything from CCTV systems to gates, fencing, chains and locks.

As we are a cooperative of over 3,500 Members, if you have information or insights of criminality which may help your neighbours or other Members, please do let us know and we can send out targeted or general bulletins.

Save money. Save time.