Thieves targeting rural areas in Cheshire are costing taxpayers more than a million pounds – nearly a third of the cost to the whole North West.
So-called ‘agri-crime’ cost an estimated £1.1m in the county last year, even though figures across the UK are falling.
Topping the thieves’ wish lists in Cheshire were quad bikes, while tools and vehicles also proved to be particularly coveted.
Across the North West, the total cost of rural crime stood at £3.9m, with figures suggesting the majority of thefts were planned rather than opportunist.
A spokesman for rural insurer NFU Mutual, which released the latest figures, said: “As a mutual organisation owned by, and run for, our members we have a responsibility to work with country people to improve security and tackle crime.
“Even though rural crime has fallen, much more still needs to be done to thwart rural criminals and minimise the devastating impact of crime in the countryside.
“We’re starting to see the benefits from communities working hard with the police and wider industry. However, people shouldn’t become complacent – they need to make security a priority on their farms, businesses and homes.”
Thefts of garden furniture, ornaments and stone were emerging trends over the last twelve months.
The results of the survey also indicated that security measures such as locks, CCTV and tracker devices were more effective than a greater police presence or tougher sentencing for criminals.
Some of the more unusual defence mechanisms included keeping geese to alert homeowners of trespassers, housing louder and more aggressive animals such as llamas in with other livestock, or installing fog machines to disorientate intruders.