Rural crime 'on the increase'
Rural crime increased in 2013, according to data from an agricultural insurer. NFU Mutual says thefts to the value of £44.5m were committed last year, a five per cent increase on 2012, and that sheep-rustling and the targeting of farm equipment were particular problems.
Chief Inspector James Sutherland of Cambridgeshire Police told the Today programme that organised criminals were involved in the thefts.
"Most modern agricultural machinery, plant machinery, comes with a number of anti-theft devices and markings" he explained. "Older vehicles, which tend to get stolen, targeted more often are easier to disguise" and to move.
Stolen livestock, he added, "will go into underground abattoirs and they will make their way into the food production chain.
"The sort of people who are stealing animals are not going to have a great regard for animal welfare, for food safety or for good standards and this stuff is getting into the food system."
First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday 11 August.
11 Aug 2014