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Rural crime has fallen by 20% in the past year — thanks to the vigilance of horse owners and country police.

The latest figures come from insurance company NFU Mutual, which received claims for £42.3million during 2012, down 19.7% on 2011.

Of that, £1.3m was equine and livestock-related equipment, stolen from farms, homes, shows and livery yards.

The company attributes the fall in crime to the “increased awareness and effort” made by country people and police. But owners are warned not to be complacent.

“While a 20% drop in crime is encouraging, it’s important to remember that rural crime is still taking place,” said Nicki Whittaker of the NFU. “Horse owners and farmers are a common target for thieves.”

But it would seem thieves are also after different things.

“In 2011, items of tack and horseboxes topped the thieves’ wish list,” added Nicki. “Thanks to improved security measures, these items are proving harder to steal.

“However, thieves have now turned their attention to trailers and electric fencing equipment. One of the worries about this is the risk of horses straying on to the road.”

Garry Porter of HorseWatch UK urged H&H readers not to drop their guard.

“We have come across slightly less crime recently, but we still have spates of thefts,” he said.

“Many people don’t report what they consider ‘minor’ crime — a headcollar here, a bag of feed there. There’s always a degree of apathy; you need to lock up your belongings.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (8 August 2013)