A startling report published today shows the cost of rural crime has risen to its worst level in four years with the highest rate of increase since 2010 - but just what areas are the worst affected, and what items are thieves most likely to eye up?

The top 10 most stolen rural items in 2017 were:

  1. ATVs/Quads;
  2. Tools;
  3. Machinery;
  4. 4x4s;
  5. Livestock;
  6. Garden equipment;
  7. Oil or diesel;
  8. Trailers and horseboxes;
  9. Tractors;
  10. Bicycles.

Quads and ATVs

Quads and ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) are disappearing from farms in large numbers – thanks to being easy to transport and lack of registration plates.

The cost of Quad and ATV theft claims to NFU Mutual rose from £2 million in 2016 to £2.3 million in 2017.

The mutual advises that marking and tracking devices are the most effective security measures, once basic measures such as keeping vehicles out of sight and secured have been addressed.


Thieves are increasingly cloning the identity of tractors to make detection more difficult;

The cost of agricultural vehicle theft claims to NFU Mutual rose to £5.9 million; an increase of £500,000 compared to 2016;

Thieves are stealing small, older tractors to export to third world countries as well as expensive large models;

NFU Mutual goes to extreme lengths to trace and recover stolen tractors which have been exported to send a strong message to thieves


  • The estimated cost of livestock theft reported to NFU Mutual increased from £2.2 million in 2016 to £2.4 million in 2017.
  • Thefts of large numbers of lambs are raising concerns that stock is being stolen for slaughter and processing outside regulated abattoirs before illegally entering the food chain;

Technology - including DNA testing and electronic chips - now offers robust evidence to help bring rustlers to justice.

‘Ewe Hostels’ which provide secure housing for sheep seized by police while investigations are made, are being funded by NFU Mutual.

Worst affected areas

In its 2018 Rural Crime Report, published today (August 6), rural insurer National Farmers’ Union (NFU) Mutual looks at the impact of crime on rural communities across the UK.

With an increase of 13.4% on the previous year, it is rising at its fastest rate since 2010.

Across the UK, the cost of rural crime has risen most sharply in Wales, where it is up 41% on the previous year, followed by the Midlands which is up 32%, while the South East has seen a rise of 30%.

The cost of rural theft in Scotland has fallen 3.8%, while the North East is the only English region showing a fall, down 6.5%.