‘Stay vigilant against rural theft’, urges NFU

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Larne’s rural residents have been warned not to become complacent against crime, despite an almost 20 per cent drop in thefts from Northern Ireland’s countryside.

New figures from leading rural insurer NFU Mutual reveal rural crime in the province totalled an estimated £3.4 million during 2012, down 19 per cent from £4.2 million in 2011.

Quad bikes topped the thieves’ wish list in the province while livestock, tractors and agricultural machinery have also proved popular targets for criminals in the area.

Statistics from the survey also suggested the majority of rural crime is planned rather than opportunist.

And while the figures indicate that rural crime is decreasing, William Cross, senior agent at the Larne branch of NFU Mutual, has urged people to remain vigilant.

He told the Times: “I believe that some of those behind the thefts in the Larne area have been caught by police and brought in front of the courts, which may help explain why there has been a drop in rural crime locally.

“However, that does not mean that it has gone away. In fact, just last week there was an incident of diesel theft from a digger on the Coast Road.

“I would urge rural dwellers to make security a priority on their farms and their homes.”

Meanwhile, Mr Cross also encouraged farmers to keep safety at the forefront of their minds.

The warning comes after a 10-year-old boy died in an accident at a farm near Castlewellan, County Down.

It has been reported that the youngster was working on farm machinery on steep ground when the accident happened.

Mr Cross said there had been “a real sense of shock locally” following this incident.

He added: “Local farmers were numbered by the tragic death of this young boy.

“I would urge farmers to take precautions and be extra vigilant where young children are concerned.”