Business

Farmers beware . . . protect your assets from agricultural crime

Richard Henderson
Richard Henderson

AS the dark winter nights get longer, it's the time of the year some farmers dread the most. Criminals enjoy the cover of darkness as they seek to wreak havoc across rural communities. And in these winter months, there is often a spike in the number of agricultural crimes committed across the country.

Latest figures from the PSNI show there were 381 agricultural crimes recorded in Northern Ireland this year up to September 30. That's 12 crimes fewer than in the same period last year, but in real terms there have been 381 incidents which have struck at the very viability of local farms.

Burglary and robbery represented 38 per cent of agricultural crime, while theft represented 62 per cent. The highest level of agriculture crime was seen in Newry, Mourne & Down (64 offences), followed by Fermanagh & Omagh (48), Armagh City Banbridge & Craigavon (47), Causeway Coast & Glens (44), Mid Ulster (43), and Antrim and Newtownabbey (40).

Eight of the policing districts showed a decrease in levels of agricultural crime, while three showed an increase. Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon had the greatest decrease (13) and Antrim and Newtownabbey had the greatest increase.

In border areas, police have deployed significant resources along with their colleagues in An Garda Siochana in a bid to tackle the problem. Along with more visible policing and covert patrols, the PSNI has worked with local farming communities to provide education and crime prevention advice.

But no matter how hard farmers work to secure their property, a determined thief can still cause major damage to an agricultural business. A medium sized tractor can cost in excess of £50,000 and the loss of a piece of machinery can not only bring financial hardship to a farmer, but can also have a major impact on the running of the business.

As a farmer, it is vital to ensure you have the proper insurance cover to protect your livelihood and business. There are a number of policies we recommend considering:

• Farm Combined Policy: A policy which can be tailored to suit your farm needs – you can add covers such as farm buildings, farm contents, livestock, public and products liability, employers liability, environmental liability, even your dwelling house plus lots more.

• Agricultural Vehicle Policy: A policy that can accommodate not only your tractors but commercial vehicles and private cars as well. This allows all of your vehicles to be neatly packaged into one policy and benefit from multi vehicle discounts.

Every farm and business is different and it is important your insurance cover meets your individual needs.

At Autoline, our dedicated agricultural teams will help establish your needs and provide affordable and suitable policies for you.

::Richard Henderson is head of agriculture insurance at Autoline. For more information on Autoline's farm insurance or to speak to our specialist team directly, call 03452 30 30 30 or visit www.autoline.co.uk/farm

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