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Rural crime costs Kent economy £1.8m in 2013 with Nick Sandford of Godinton House in Ashford saying impact could be much wider

By Chris Price

Rural crime cost the Kent economy £1.8million last year, the same amount as the year before, it has been revealed.

Tools, quad bikes and fuel - such as domestic heating oil and red diesel - were top of the list for thieves in the county according to research by the NFU Mutual farming insurance firm.

While Kent's crime figure flatlined, the nationwide cost of rural crime grew 5.2% to £44.5m in 2013, following a fall of 19% from the year before.

Rural crime cost Kent's economy £1.8m in 2013
Rural crime cost Kent's economy £1.8m in 2013

However, the after affects could be making the economic impact much higher, according to the Kent branch of the CLA, the Country Land and Business Association.

Last year, Godinton House near Ashford had two lead statues worth £30,000 stolen from their grounds.

In another incident, the estate also had a chainsaw worth £1,200 taken - but the cost of the crimes is far higher than the value of the goods removed.

One of the lead statues stolen from Godinton House, near Ashford
One of the lead statues stolen from Godinton House, near Ashford

Estate manager Nick Sandworth, who is chairman of the Kent CLA, said: "The ongoing cost of staff time and repairs are the unseen cost of rural crime.

"By the time you have fixed fences, put in new locks, dealt with the tenants affected and discussed the security costs you have added half a day's work.

"That is not factored into the cost of these things."

Godinton House estate manager Nick Sandford
Godinton House estate manager Nick Sandford

Canterbury-based NFU Mutual agent James Hodge said: "The cost of claims remains high as a result of high-value items being stolen.

"That's why it's important to stay vigilant and fight rural crime.

"Our experience with people who live and work in rural areas of Kent clearly shows that theft is more than just a setback – it can be devastating for businesses and families."

NFU Mutual organises the Country Crime Fighters Awards, a nationwide competition to support and encourage examples of crime prevention.

Mr Hodge added: "One of the rural community’s best assets is its people who can work together to safeguard the local neighbourhood."

For information on crime prevention, and to enter the awards, visit www.nfumutual.co.uk/ruralcrime.

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