Scottish farms have seen a welcome fall in tractor and quad thefts since an initiative to tackle the theft of farm machinery was launched two years ago.
The latest claims statistics from NFU Mutual, which insures more than 70 per cent of UK farmers, show that the cost of tractor and quad theft in Scotland has fallen by 40 per cent to £229,000 between 2014 and 2016.
The SPARC initiative (Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime) was launched in June 2015 with £75,000 sponsorship from NFU Mutual and included Police Scotland as well as other partners.
The funding has enabled the force to train officers in the investigation and prevention of a range of rural crimes, provided support for vehicle and livestock theft operations and step up activity to prevent livestock worrying by dogs.
A number of rural and other organisations is working closely with the project including NFU Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates, the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Scottish Government.
Chief Superintendent Gavin Robertson, SPARC chairman, said the figures demonstrate the positive impact of the scheme’s work and that of the 13 local partnership groups aligned to each of Police Scotland’s local policing divisions.
He added: “This structure ensures a consistent approach while allowing issues to be identified and addressed by those who understand best the specific needs and concerns of their own rural communities.
“We are far from complacent, however, and have set ambitious work plans for the coming year with a view to making further reductions in rural crime across Scotland. For this to be achievable, I would urge farmers, foresters, rural businesses and residents as well as those visiting the countryside for leisure activities to take appropriate steps to protect their own vehicles and property.”
Martin Malone, NFU Mutual regional manager for Scotland, added: “These figures are encouraging and send a clear message to would-be thieves that the countryside is not an easy target.
“As the insurer of most farms in Scotland we know that rural crime is a major concern for farmers and country dwellers and are determined to drive it down by working closely with police, farmers and other organisations.”
Advice on how to keep vehicles and property safe can be found at http://www.scotland.police.uk/keep-safe/home-and-personal-property/rural-crime