LIVESTOCK theft remains one of the most devastating crimes for farmers following close on the heels of the loss of farm machinery and implements, writes FUW president Glyn Roberts.

Recent reports from Dyfed Powys Police’s rural crime team regarding the loss of a flock of sheep over a period of five months in the Abergwesyn area demonstrates the calculated and premeditated nature of this costly crime.

Rustling is a crime that has been happening for centuries.

However, improvements in road infrastructure and larger farms with more livestock mean that it now involves larger groups of animals.

When you consider that livestock theft amounting to around £2.1 million was reported across the UK last year, the true cost of livestock rustling becomes only too apparent.

As mentioned above, these crimes aren’t committed by opportunist thieves, rather gangs who use intelligence and local knowledge to target properties where they know expensive farm machinery, vehicles and livestock are easily accessible.

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Whilst farm machinery and vehicles are often sold or exported, stolen livestock are more than likely re-tagged or slaughtered, making it extremely difficult to trace them back to their rightful owners, and goes partway to explaining why fewer than one per cent of sheep rustling incidents result in convictions.

Taking steps to safeguard your property and your farm must be a priority, and making sure that your insurance cover is still adequate and fulfills all of your needs is number one on that list.

Farmers are reminded that any significant changes to the business - whether it’s building a new shed or purchasing new machinery - should be reflected in the insurance policies.

Regular reviews are essential so that if the worst happens, you can rest assured that you are prepared and covered by your insurance.

While these thefts are on the increase, it’s still within your power to mitigate the damage caused by taking a few extra precautions and being vigilant.

The FUW and FUW Insurance Services understand the pressures these crimes put on farmers.

For reassurance, ring or call into your local FUW county branch and talk to one of our account executives who will be only too happy to help you with your inquiries.