As the nights draw in for the winter, Ulster Farmers’ Union, deputy president, Ivor Ferguson, is urging farmers to review security arrangements to protect themselves against theft.
Rural crime happens all year round, but with the evenings getting darker, thieves are taking it as an opportunity to take to the road to carry out their crimes.
“It is undeniable that rural crime has a significant impact on farm businesses and the wider local community.
“Victims are left feeling vulnerable and demoralised and it is an issue that must be tackled as crimes are becoming more sophisticated and items appear to be stolen to order,” said Mr Ferguson.
“Figures from NFU Mutual Insurance show a 13 per cent increase in the cost of rural crime to Northern Ireland. This equates to £2.7 million in 2015.
“Rural crime has a lasting impact on farming families, who are often robbed of their livelihood overnight and we simply can’t let another autumn/winter pass with farm businesses being the target.”
Mr Ferguson warned that farmers are having to stay one step ahead of thieves and face a continual battle to protect their property.
It is only by continually reviewing and improving their own practices and security features that will help deter thieves.
“Our key advice to members is to make sure security equipment is fully operational, all machinery, and equipment, including trailers, are locked away in sheds or buildings overnight and the keys stored away from windows and main doors in houses.
“Don’t wait for crime to happen before taking action as it could save you a lot of time, money and hassle in the future.”
The UFU is encouraging farmers to contact the PSNI if they see suspicious behaviour or suspicious vehicles on the area on 101 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.