When we talk about rural crime, you may think of theft of farming vehicles, poaching or hunting with dogs. Rural crime doesn’t have a definition and isn’t recognised as a crime in its own right.

Instead, rural crime is a term that covers many different crimes and incidents that affect rural communities. Examples include:

  • Theft of vehicles such as tractors, quad bikes and other all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).
  • Theft of livestock, or rustling.
  • Fuel theft.
  • Dog attacks on farm animals. The NFU Mutual Rural Crime Report 2022 [PDF] estimated £1.5m worth of farm animals were injured or killed by dogs in 2021.
  • Fly tipping and illegal waste dumping.

Rural crime has four main categories, although some crime – such as illegal waste dumping – also comes under environmental crime.

Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) may target rural areas and carry out crimes that include theft of machinery, livestock and/or firearms. Rural communities may also experience antisocial behaviour and criminal damage.

Theft from or damage to farms, farm buildings, farming equipment and livestock.

These are crimes and incidents against stables and equestrian centres.

Heritage crime is defined as ‘any offence which harms the value of Britain’s heritage assets and their settings to this and future generations’. It includes theft of lead from or damage to listed buildings and ancient monuments, arson on heritage sites, and illegal metal detecting, which could be classed as theft.

This includes crimes such as poaching, hare coursing, stealing birds’ eggs and persecuting wild animals such as birds and bats.

The impact of rural crime can be devastating. It can lead to people losing their livelihoods and can affect whole communities. Rural crime is also often unreported, so many people don’t get the support they’re entitled to after experiencing crime of this nature.

Rural crime can impact you in several ways:

  • Financial impact: you may have financial worries due to loss of livelihood, the cost of replacing equipment or introducing security measures, or increased insurance premiums.
  • Emotional impact: your sense of safety may be compromised or you may feel anxious and uneasy. You may also experience feelings of vulnerability or fear.
  • The crime may also affect your family. You might find you don’t want to worry them so feel you can’t talk to them about the impact it’s had on you.
  • You may feel angry or upset this has happened to you.

Although the financial cost of rural crime can have a big impact on victims, the emotional cost of dealing with this type of crime can also take its toll. You don’t have to face rural crime alone. We can help you.

You can find links to your local police rural crime pages on the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) website.

If you have any information about rural crime or witness an incident and want to report anonymously, you can contact Crimestoppers.

Whether you’ve reported the crime or not, you can talk to us. We offer free, confidential advice and support. Our services are delivered independently of the police.

We can help you by:

  • giving you information and advice about your personal safety and home security
  • informing you of your rights and entitlements under the Victims’ Code of Practice
  • listening to how the crime has affected you with respect and without judgement
  • helping you explore coping strategies and ways to manage your wellbeing
  • connecting you with other agencies and services that can also offer help
  • supporting you if the case goes to court.

When you report a crime to the police, they should automatically ask if you’d like help from an organisation like Victim Support. But anyone affected by crime can contact us directly – you don’t need to talk to the police to get our help.

You can get in touch by:

You can also create a free account on My Support Space – an online resource containing interactive guides to help you manage the impact crime has had on you.

If English is not your first language and you’d like support, call our Supportline and let us know which language you speak. We’ll call you back with an interpreter as soon as possible. We also welcome calls via Relay UK and SignLive (BSL).

Families and friends affected by crime can also contact us for support and information. If you’re a child or young person under 18 and are looking for support, visit our children and young people website for information and tips.