FARMERS have bit hit with losses of £1.5million in Essex after being targeted by theives. 

Data published by rural insurer NFU Mutual has revealed the loss for people living in the area in 2022.

The number has decreased by 10 per cent from the previous year, but the national figure has been shown to rise by 22 per cent.

NFU Mutual is working with farming families who are concerned with “thieves cashing in on the limited supply of vehicles and rising prices.”

The insurer provided more than £400,000 in support for rural crime fighting initiatives last year.

Tom Berryman, agent at NFU Mutual Essex North East, said: “While the fall in the cost of rural crime last year in Essex is welcome, unfortunately we know from experience there is no room for complacency, as criminals continue to scour the countryside.

“This not only causes disruption to farming businesses but widespread concern to those who live and work in the countryside.

“Rural theft is changing. It is not only opportunist thieves travelling a few miles, we are now seeing internationally organised criminal activity.

"These gangs target high-value farm machinery and GPS kits because they can be sold all over the world.

“Many items are stolen ‘to order’ by thieves using online technology to identify where farm machinery is stored and scope out the best way to steal it.

"They will also spend hours watching the movement of farming families to work out the best time to attack.

“Loss of vital machinery and GPS equipment causes huge disruption to farmers who are already stretched to the limit and replacing kit in the current economic situation can take months, adding additional stress.

“Those targeted by criminals may often second guess themselves in the aftermath of an incident as well as live in fear of repeat attacks on what is not only their workplace, but also their family home.

“That’s why we are working with farmers to help protect their livelihoods, sharing our advice and expertise as the main insurer of the UK’s farmers and offering support.”