WITH the Christmas holidays looming, rural insurer NFU Mutual has adapted a classic festive favourite to highlight some of the major crime trends and issues experienced by its rural members, as well as providing useful prevention advice.

NFU Mutual insures more than 70 per cent of the UK’s farming related market, so has been at the forefront of the fight against rural crime throughout the year.

On the first day of Christmas a rural thief stole from me:

A partridge in a cherry tree

Game birds and fruit trees are among some of the more unusual items which have been stolen from NFU Mutual members over the past 18 months, with 8,000 partridges worth over £30,000 stolen from a farm in Suffolk in 2011, while 200 cherry trees were taken by thieves in 2012. Other unusual seasonal items stolen recently have included turkeys, Christmas trees and a Christmas tree wrapping machine.

2nd Day - Two tractor cabs

While tractor theft cost NFU Mutual members £8.7 million last year (based on claims data) overall levels of tractor crime were actually down 13 per cent year on year and are set to fall significantly again this year based on claims to date. This fall has coincided with wide scale introduction of high-tech security measures such as CESAR as standard on many new tractors over the past two years.

3rd Day - Three quad bikes

Quad bikes/ATVs were among the most commonly targeted rural items by criminals, with more than 600 claims made by NFU Mutual Members last year (2011), worth in excess of £1.8 million.

4th Day - Online IDs

Statistics from CIFAS, the UK's Fraud Prevention Service, reveal that there were more than 113,000 reported incidences of identify fraud in the UK during 2011, up 10 per cent on the previous 12 months.

5th Day - Through a motor fraud ring

NFU Mutual worked with the Insurance Fraud Bureau on November 2012’s Crash for cash report, which estimated induced accidents and subsequent fraudulent injury claims were costing UK motorists and insurers nearly £400 million per year and accounted for up to one in seven of all motor personal injury claims.

6th Day - Tool bags fraying

When interviewed about their claims experience earlier this year (June, 2012), agents from NFU Mutual’s 300 branch offices identified, for the second year running, tools as the items which are most commonly targeted by thieves in rural areas.

7th Day - Seven stolen saddles

According to NFU Mutual’s annual rural crime Survey (June, 2012) equine theft cost NFU Mutual members £875,000 during the previous 12 months, with the average claim £2834. To help prevent losses NFU Mutual is urging members to security mark all their equipment, especially tack.

8th Day - Chemicals a-spraying

The theft of high-value, specialist chemicals has led to some of the highest value claims experienced by NFU Mutual during 2012, with some of the bigger claims worth between £15,000 and £200,000.

9th Day - Cattle a-missing

Livestock rustling claims (logged to date) have cost NFU Mutual members almost £1.2 million during the first 10 months of 2012, with almost half - £504,000 - coming from Northern Ireland alone.

10th Day - Sheep a-worrying

During the first 10 months of 2012 NFU Mutual received 170 claims for sheep worrying, while figures obtained under FOI by Farmers Guardian would suggest many more incidents are going unclaimed for, with 691 reports of worrying officially logged with police during 2011. An NFU Mutual survey of June, 2012 identified the innovative steps which some farmers were taking in order to protect their flocks, including keeping more aggressive animals in the same fields.

11th Day - Barns a-burning

Whether crop, buildings or equipment, arson can be among the most disruptive form of criminal activity to hit members of the rural community, often causing business disruption costs which go far beyond the actual value of the items destroyed. To date in 2012 NFU Mutual has received more than £2 million in claims for arson or malicious damage alone.

12th Day - Drums of red diesel

Statistics released as part of NFU Mutual’s rural crime survey, in June, 2012, revealed fuel and heating oil theft cost NFU Mutual members £1.5 million over the previous 12 months, with the average cost of a claim £1,433.