The cost of rural crime in Northumberland soared by a massive 67 per cent in the last year, costing the county’s economy £450,000.
The figures come from part of a UK-wide survey by NFU Mutual and show that while rural crime in Northumberland cost £270,000 in 2012, it jumped by two-thirds in 2013.
The insurer’s annual Rural Crime Survey shows the nationwide cost of rural crime totalled an estimated £44.5million in 2013 – a rise of 5.2 per cent, while the North East total increased by 12 per cent.
The most-targeted items in the county were quad bikes, followed by equine transport/equipment and machinery.
More than half of staff interviewed from hundreds of NFU Mutual offices in rural communities around the UK also said they’d seen customers suffer repeat crimes or had high-value items stolen.
Although high-value thefts may be planned and highly organised, the number of stolen garden tools and ornaments indicates opportunist thieves continue to target gardens and outbuildings.
Northumbria Police is in the midst of a crackdown on rural crime.
Last month, Superintendent Mick Paterson, of Northumberland Area Command, said: “We’re using a combination of tactics to take action against those involved in rural crime, and to prevent offences from happening in the first place.
“We’re committed to doing everything possible to ensure the county remains a safe place and it’s important we work closely with our partners and the community to make it difficult for criminals.”
And this week, Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird, pictured, threw her support behind the crackdown.
“Tackling rural crime is vital and I know the force takes the issue very seriously working with partners, including other forces, and local communities to tackle it and bring reassurance to the people who live and work in our fabulous county,” she said.
“Northumberland is a large area with some very widespread communities and I know if tools, machinery or vehicles are stolen this can have a big impact - not only because of the obvious loss of property but because these items are often relied on by people for their livelihoods.”
A special public meeting took place in Whittingham last month on the back of a string of thefts from farms and isolated areas across Coquetdale and Whittingham Vale.