Rural crime costs are on the rise in Cheshire, new figures have revealed.

Statistics from NFU Mutual, the leading rural insurer, show that ‘agri-crime’ cost the county £730,000 in 2014 - a significant increase from the £650,000 it cost in 2013.

The rise comes despite a decline in the cost of rural crime nationally, as thieves continue to target expensive all terrain vehicles and fuel.

In the UK-wide Rural Crime Survey, it shows that the nationwide cost of rural crime totalled an estimated £37.8 million in 2014 – a 15% reduction on last year’s figures.

Items most commonly targeted by thieves across Cheshire over the last 12 months were anti-terrain vehicles such as quad-bikes, tools and fuels such as domestic heating oil and farmers’ supplies of ‘red’ diesel.

The survey also revealed that cyber-crime is becoming a growing problem for rural communities, and thieves appear to be taking advantage of new targets like solar panels.

Liz Lawrence, NFU Mutual Agent for Cheshire, said: “It is disappointing to see levels of rural crime rising in Cheshire, especially when there has been a decline nationally.

“Initiatives aimed at reducing livestock theft and installing CESAR tracking on agricultural vehicles are having a real impact across the country and making life increasingly difficult for rural criminals.

“But the figures for Cheshire underscore the message that criminals will move to take advantage of weaknesses and rural communities should remain vigilant and put security at the forefront of their minds,” she added.

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