FARMERS and landowners are being warned to step up their security as winter deepens.
The Country Land and Business Association says rural crime is likely to rise with a combination of dark nights and continued economic uncertainty.
The CLA in the North says that farm equipment and vehicles are prime targets.
CLA North regional director Dorothy Fairburn said: “Rural areas can provide rich and easy pickings.
“Crime in rural areas takes many forms and is made easier for the perpetrator by the relative isolation of homes and businesses, a maze of country lanes unmonitored by CCTV, lack of street lighting, miles of legal public access close to properties and low visible police presence.”
The CLA is advising farmers and landowners to take simple steps to protect themselves and their property such as not leaving tools lying around, ensuring keys are removed from vehicles and that sheds and other outbuildings are properly secured.
Rural residents off the mains gas supply grid, who rely on heating oil, are also being urged to protect supplies by installing locks on tank filler or vent caps and checking tank levels on a regular basis to ensure fuel is not being siphoned off.