THE cost of rural crime in Oxfordshire dropped by £320,000 last year.
Figures released yesterday by insurance company NFU Mutual showed there was a 32 per cent decrease in the value of goods stolen, down from £1 million to £680,000.
The figures stand in contrast to the national statistics, which show rural crime cost £44.5m across the UK last year, a rise of 5.2 per cent.
Group secretary of the Vale and Wallingford branch of the National Farmers Union, Andrew Forsyth, above,said there were two reasons behind the decrease in the county.
He said: “The first reason is people are taking more care and putting more preventative measures in place.
“The second is the hard work of the police, who have been absolutely fantastic.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld was elected two years ago on a promise to reduce rural crime.
He said: “I am delighted the NFU figures show there has been a large reduction in rural crime in Oxfordshire and I will continue to prioritise rural crime in the Thames Valley to help reduce the figures even further. In financial, commercial loss and intimidation terms rural crime is a serious crime but it is now being dealt with seriously and real progress is being made.”
Mr Stansfeld promised that the police would attend every rural crime reported.
Thames Valley Police yesterday said they were unable to say whether Mr Stansfeld had made good of this claim.
According to the survey the most common items targeted by thieves in Oxfordshire over the last 12 months were tools, quad bikes and garden equipment.
Tony Carter, of Millets Farm in Frilford, said: “As far as a drop in crime it depends what sort of crime you’re talking about.
“We still have problems with hare coursers and sometimes there’s not an awful lot you can do about it.
“Farms are very big and if people come in and cut your barbed wire it’s hard to stop them, you can’t have a 24-hour guard.
“But the police do their best and sometimes they’ve sent the helicopter up after coursers.
“Some level of crime will always exist, it’s about managing it and taking steps to reduce it.”
Mr Forsyth said there were a number of ways people could cut rural crime further.
He said: “It’s about vigilance. If people see something suspicious they should call the police because it may be the missing piece of a jigsaw officers need to crack a case.”
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