Rural crime warning as winter nights close in

As British Summertime comes to an end the UK’s leading rural insurer has issued a warning that the longer nights are providing more opportunity for criminals to strike.

NFU Mutual’s Rural Crime Survey reveals that three quarters (74%) of all rural crime is thought to take place during hours of darkness, with the overall volume of thefts significantly higher at times of year when daylight hours are at their shortest.

In total it is estimated that just under 40% of all claims for theft made to NFU Mutual occur during the winter months, when there can be as much as eight extra hours of dusk/night-time light, compared to the summer which accounts for only around 11% of all theft claims.

The findings come from a survey of more than 300 NFU Mutual branch offices across the country, and their claims experience.

Matthew Scott, Chief Claims Manager at NFU Mutual, said: “Clearly longer hours of darkness can present greater opportunities for criminal activity, particularly in remote rural areas which may not benefit from as much lighting, passing traffic or general footfall in the evenings as urban settings.

“As the clocks change and nights lengthen, it will soon be the case that dusk has fallen while many people are still out at work, leaving their homes unoccupied during the first few hours of darkness.”

“By taking simple steps to protect property country dwellers can significantly reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim, and the vast majority should be able to enjoy a safe and secure winter.”

“With more than 300 branch offices based directly in the communities we serve, we are working closely with rural communities to address this seasonal threat of crime and develop, alongside residents, initiatives which will help prevent it.”

NFU Mutual has also outlined a number of simple steps that can be taken to help deter crime during the longer Winter nights:

Leave selected lights and outdoor security lighting on during the day, as well as at night – especially if you are out during the day

Move ornaments, garden furniture or other outdoor valuables into locked buildings for the Winter

Keep all outbuildings locked when not in use

Check all doors and windows are locked before going to bed

Remove items from your garden/shed which could be used to aid breaking into your home – for example tools, ladders

Consider keeping geese or other animals who may serve as low tech alarm systems

Join a local neighbourhood or farm watch scheme