Rural Crime

Rural crime is an issue that affects farmers and other people living in rural communities. According to the Met Police, rural crime has several subcategories: agricultural; equine; wildlife; and heritage.

Agricultural crime covers everything from machinery thefts to livestock worrying. This sort of crime is often hard to police and frequently under-reported.


Many rural areas now have specifically trained rural police officers, with some having whole teams dedicated to rural crime (a full list can be downloaded below). 

Ensure your farm is easy for emergency services to locate - make your farm/house identifiable to allow emergency services to find you more easily. 

Rural crime can be distressing for those affected. NSA has produced the following advice to help advise farmers to try and prevent crime where possible.


Sheep Rustling

Sheep Rustling is the act of stealing sheep. In recent months there has seemingly been a rise in sheep thefts across the UK. Farmers can take the following steps to help prevent sheep thefts:

  • Always secure your gates with a chain and padlock and make sure all gates and fences are in good condition. 
  • Ensure your sheep are tagged and, where possible, have an identifying marker.
  • Where possible block tracks for vehicle access.
  • Ask neighbours and other locals to notify the police or crime stoppers if they spot a suspicious vehicle or person. Do not approach the person but report the number plate, and if possible take a photograph. 
  • Keep pedigree stock closer to home. 

If your sheep go missing be sure to report their theft to the police. 

In some instances, thefts are immediately preceded by a spout of dog thefts. Always ensure your dog is kept securely and if your dog does go missing, be extra vigilant for sheep rustlers. 

NSA is always happy to support a police search for stolen sheep by sharing appeals or with any information we can provide.


Equipment theft

On sheep farms, the most commonly stolen equipment is quad bikes. While the following steps may have a cost, it is far cheaper than a stolen bike. Power tools are also frequently stolen and steps can be taken to help prevent this also. 

  • Put a tracker on your bike, meaning it can be found easily. 
  • Register your farm vehicles with DataTag. DataTag runs a database for farm vehicles comparable to the DVLA.
  • Record your quad bike and other vehicles (including trailers) serial numbers. Ifor trailers can also be registered with Ifor Williams and if stolen a tag can be added so if the serial number appears it will be flagged up as stolen. 
  • Secure all equipment, including bikes, in a secure indoor space near the house where you or your dogs would hear a disturbance. Ensure the window and door frames are not rotten and are solid. Where possible, put steel bars over windows and add a steel door. Make sure no bolts or screws are facing out as potential thieves will be prepared to remove the door. 
  • Set up CCTV around the yard to catch thieves in action - if you're concerned about the investment, this equipment could also be set up in the lambing shed to monitor your ewes during lambing time. Alternatively, Wildlife Trail cameras (which only film when movement triggers them) could be used.
  • Invest in infrared beams that, when broken, set off a warning alarm OR notify your phone.  
  • Use outdoor movement sensitive lights that will light-up and scare off intruders. 
  • Don't leave trailers out without hitch locks and/or wheel clamps. 
  • Criminals will access your farm from any route possible, make it difficult for them by turning gate hinges upside down so they cant be lifted off. 
  • Contact Google and request your farm be taken off Google Earth. It is common for information to be gathered on farms using google earth to map out the area before arriving.