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Meet the countryside's new crimefighters...
PEOPLE living in the countryside are turning to their livestock to help guard against thieves. Territorial geese, aggressive bulls and barking dogs are just some of the tactics being employed by farmers and householders to guard their property.
Thieves had predominately targeted high-priced power tools, heating oil, red diesel and quad bikes as new figures from rural insurer NFU Mutual revealed the cost of rural crimes in the Midlands was an estimated £9.2 million last year. Organised gangs are also thought to be targetting chemicals used for crop spraying to ship to Europe to meet demand, after NFU Mutual identified a growing trend in chemical and metal theft over the last 12 months.
However, alongside expensive high-tech security equipment, the NFU’s Mutual Rural Crime Survey found people had also improvised with some cheap yet effective methods of keeping out criminals. Some of the techniques used by NFU members included keeping geese to alert them of intruders, storing quad bikes in pens containing bulls or housing louder or more aggressive animals such as llamas in with other livestock. Councillor Rob Adams, of Aston Hall Farm, keeps geese on his property in White Ladies Aston. He said they were a great deterent for keeping away any unwanted visitors. “The gander is my main security. “He is a better guard dog than my actual dog and really he thinks he owns the place,” he said. “We have one gander and two geese and when one was sitting on her eggs he was especially bad. We just walk by and they come after us.”.
Rupert Barnes, NFU Mutual Agent in Worcester, said: “While rural crime continues to be an issue, I think the important message is that you can save a lot of money and heartache by taking steps to prevent crime from happening in the first place rather than recovering items after the event.” He suggested people should keep their property well lit and mark valuable items with Smart Water. Nationally, the cost of ‘agri-crime’ rose by six per cent to an estimated £52.7 million in 2011.