RURAL crime cost the south-west economy an estimated £5.5m in 2013 (a slight decrease from £5.6m in 2012).

The figures are part of a UK-wide survey by NFU Mutual.

The rural insurer’s annual Rural Crime Survey shows the nationwide cost of rural crime totalled an estimated £44.5m in 2013 – a rise of 5.2 per cent.

The most common items targeted by thieves in the south-west over the last 12 months were tools, quad bikes and machinery such as hay balers and ploughs.

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.

NFU Mutual agent Jeremy Atkins said: “The cost of claims in the south-west may have dipped, but the threat of crime remains as more high-value items are being stolen throughout the UK. That’s why it’s important to stay vigilant and fight rural crime.”

NFU Mutual organises the Country Crime Fighters Awards, a nationwide competition to support and encourage examples of crime prevention taking place in the countryside.

You can enter or nominate someone on our website at