As the nights draw in the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) and NFU Mutual are urging farmers to review security arrangements to protect against theft.

UFU Deputy President, Barclay Bell said that rural crime happens all year round, but with the evenings getting darker there is now more opportunity for thieves.

“Farmers are already aware of this important issue but we are urging them to be extra vigilant and to take those extra simple steps to ensure their livestock, machinery and equipment is protected,” he said.

Several UFU members in the Ballymoney area of Co. Antrim have been recent victims of crime.

The UFU said these incidents included the theft of a variety of portable items such as power tools, quads, cattle drench and generators.

In some cases thieves used tools taken from insecure outbuildings to break into secure areas and it is thought that most of these thefts took place at night and it seems the thieves were selective in the items taken.

“It is undeniable that rural crime has a significant impact on farm businesses and the wider local community.

“Victims are left feeling vulnerable and demoralised and it is an issue that must be tackled. It’s not just opportunistic crime that is causing us concern,” Bell said.

There are a number of simple things farmers can do to protect their livestock, machinery and equipment; the UFU has the following tips:

  • Don’t wait for crime to happen before taking action.
  • Have a look around your premises; look for vulnerable sports and areas of permanent darkness.
  • Report all incidences of theft and any suspicious behaviour to the PSNI.
  • Ensure premises are well lit.
  • Ensure gates and doors are securely locked.

Commenting on behalf of the PSNI Superintendent Brian Kee said that the PSNI understands the impact that any type of crime has on families and communities.

“We also appreciate the human impact that crime against the farming community has on farmers, their families, farm workers, their business and the wider rural community,” he said.