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SUSSEX farmers have lost out on half a million pounds in the past year through stolen tractors, vandalism and rustled livestock.

Rural crime cost East Sussex farmers more than £247,000 in 2015 and their West Sussex counterparts almost £277,000, according to new figures.

But increased technology and greater vigilance means that rural crime is falling in the county and Sussex farmers are not suffering as badly as colleagues elsewhere in the country.

The financial impact of rural crime is down 29 per cent in West Sussex and 23 per cent in East Sussex since 2014, according to data from NFU Mutual.

Tim Price, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “The fall in rural crime across Sussex is great news and a tribute to the work being done by farmers, police and local NFU Mutual staff to make rural Sussex more secure.

“Over the last two years farmers have fitted CESAR marking systems, immobilisers and tracker systems to tractors, beefed up farm yard security and worked with neighbours through farmwatch schemes to collate information about rural crimes which police can use to secure convictions.

“The fall shows that by working together country people can keep rural crime at bay but unfortunately the work is never done.”

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said she pledged on taking office in 2012 to treat rural crime as seriously as urban crime.

She attributed the drop to more effective collaboration between Sussex Police and neighbouring forces and to the farming community stepping up security measures with CCTV on outer buildings, better security features on machinery and improved reporting to police.

Ms Bourne said she hoped reporting levels would increase further with the Sussex Equine Rangers scheme supported by the PCC Office which will has seen horse riders supporting neighbourhood police teams in the more remote parts of the county.

She added: "Farming is an intrinsic part of Sussex life and so it saddens me when I hear reports of the theft of expensive machinery, oil and livestock.

"I would urge people living in the countryside to remain vigilant, and report anyone or anything they think is suspicious to the police.”

In comparison, rural crime has risen by 36 per cent to £1.3 million in Gloucestershire, is up 28 per cent in Cambridgeshire to £1.9 million and up by 19 per cent to £2.2 million in Lincolnshire.

Nationally, the number of thefts of tractor and quad bikes from farms has fallen in the past year but the cost of livestock thefts has risen.

In total, rural theft cost an estimated £42.5 million in the UK during 2015 - a slight increase of 0.4 per cent from 2014.

Date Created: 12/08/2016

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