Farmers are fighting crime tooth and claw

Derbyshire farmers are turning to their animals for help in the fight against rural crime.

Bulls, geese and even llamas have been called up to stem the £9.2 million wave of thefts which has hit the Midlands in the last year, accoridng to insurer NFU Mutual’s Rural Crime Survey.

In Derbyshire, tools, quad bikes, metal and fuel were identified as the items most commonly targeted by thieves, but farmers are getting ever more creative in the lengths they will go to deter criminals.

Prevention is better than cure, with high-tech security measures like CCTV and tracker devices, as well as physical security measures such as locks and alarms seen as more effective than a greater police presence or tougher sentencing for criminals.

But to cut the cost, NFU Mutual members’ innovative ideas have included keeping geese to alert homeowners to intruders, storing quad bikes in a pen behind a Friesian bull or housing louder and more aggressive animals such as llamas in with other livestock.

Fiona Traquair, NFU Mutual Agent in Matlock, said: “You can save a lot of money and heartache by taking steps to prevent crime from happening in the first place.”

Most rural thefts were planned, with criminals operating under the cover of darkness. Theft of metal and chemicals has been identified within the survey as growing trends over the last twelve months.

Chemicals used for crop spraying can cost more than £600 for ten litres. NFU Mutual believes chemicals like these are now being targeted by organised gangs who ship them abroad to meet demand across Europe.