FARMERS are counting the cost after thieves have stolen tractors worth £300,000.
The Stamford and Rutland branch of the National Farmers Union say that agricultural crime is rising as farms are plundered for tractors and fuel.
The branch, which also covers Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire, has reported eight tractors were stolen in 2010 and received on average one claim a month for fuel thefts.
The Bourne branch reports that there were four vehicle thefts, which includes 4x4s, a tractor and lorry, along with 11 thefts of diesel, tools and equipment.
NFU Mutual estimates that agricultural thefts in the Midlands has cost £9.7m in 2010.
Stamford group secretary Robert Burns said: “Last year was a revelation for us. Over the last 10 years we have seen more equipment stolen and last year was the peak of it.”
Assistant agent in Bourne Alister Green said of rural crime: “It is definitely on the increase and in the last two months we have already have five thefts reported.”
Caldecott farmer and chairman of the East Midlands branch Andrew Brown has heard reports of tractors being exported to Iraq, South Africa and Australia.
Mr Brown, of Lyddington Road, said: “At this time of year if you are losing one of your main machines, it is going to take you a while before you can get a replacement and can have a knock-on effect on your business.”
Sector for Stamford and Bourne Insp Gary Stewart said two tractors stolen from the Boston area were found as they were being taken to be exported out.
He said: “Rural crime is continuing at about the same level but saying that we have seen an increase in thefts of metal from other types of machinery.”
Rutland police Insp Johnny Monks said there has been a reduction in rural crime in Rutland and across Leicestershire. But he is also urging people to report crime.
He said: “Rural crime has reduced year-on-year for the last three years. I am not naive enough to suggest for one moment that every crime gets recorded as it doesn’t.
“I think there is a propensity of under reporting and I would encourage members of the public to let us know as we could be missing vital information and evidence.”