The cost of rural crime rose to almost £1 million in Suffolk last year, new figures have revealed.
A report, published last week, by leading rural insurer NFU Mutual shows that while rural theft costs fell by four per cent in the UK last year, in Suffolk they increased by six per cent, to almost £980,000, compared to 2015.
While recognising that Suffolk had seen a percentage increase in the cost of rural crime, Stuart Grimsey, Chief Inspector of Suffolk Police, said he would need to do detailed analysis on the data used to understand the six per cent hike quoted.
He cautioned that the county’s increased costs could represent a change in crime type, such as the theft of heating oil or high value machinery, rather than a higher level of crime reporting.
In Essex the cost of rural crime soared by 44 per cent last year, to £1,814,548, while Cambridgeshire, one of the worst affected counties by cost, saw a seven per cent drop, to £1,609,305.
A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Crime targeting property in Essex’s rural areas is a concern but NFU Mutual’s own figures show the reported cost of this sort of crime is 25 per cent lower this year than in 2014 (from £2.4m to £1.8m).
“There is less crime in rural areas of Essex than in urban areas but rural communities experience crimes like domestic violence too and we will always prioritise police response to incidents where lives are at risk.
“Taking sensible crime prevention steps like marking garden machinery and making sure outbuildings are secure really does help and adds to our work which includes local police officers and specials as well as specialist operations using drones and other technology to combat rural crime.”
The report reveals that being ‘staked out’ is the biggest worry for country people, followed closely by longer police response.
Chief Insp Grimsey said the report’s findings were ‘useful’ in helping police understand the concerns of the rural community and would give them something to work on.
Suffolk’s rural policing strategy, launched by Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore earlier this year, gives details of the prevention, intelligence, enforcement and reassurance measures being taken, and specialist resources being used, to reduce crime.
For more information and advice on how to beat rural crime in your area go to www.nfumutual.co.uk/ruralcrime.