CRIME is hitting Carlow farmers in the pocket as well threatening their sense of security.
A recent survey by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) reveals for the first time the true cost of agricultural crime to the farming sector. ICSA’s agricultural crime survey found that many farmers were reluctant to report thefts due to the risk of rising insurance premiums. It found that, on average, farmers were willing to take a financial hit of €1,771 rather than report the incident.
Larceny of tools and diesel were the most common types of thefts reported.
Carlow ICSA president Denis Nolan said these thefts often went unreported, while they also caused tremendous fear in the locality.
“It’s the hidden cost, the little bits that are not reported because the insurance would go up,” he said. “The second thing would be the fear these crimes cause. One person’s diesel would be robbed and 100 others would get worried about it.”
More than 850 farmers responded to the national survey, with 565 reporting as victims of agricultural crime between 2014 and 2016, including theft, fraud, criminal assault, vandalism and trespass.
Mr Nolan said that many incidents of agricultural theft in Carlow were opportunistic in nature: “Farmers would leave their yard for an hour or two and then come back to find tools taken.”
One Carlow farmer returned home and disturbed raiders, who fled the scene leaving a trailer load of stolen equipment behind them.
Roughly half of theft victims have been targeted more than once. Mr Nolan recalled that one south Carlow man was burgled twice in a six-month period, with angle grinders, compressors and welders being snatched.
Mr Nolan did not feel there was an epidemic of agricultural crime but there was real fear among farmers that they would be targeted.
“People are still angry about it. Most people wouldn’t think about it on a regular basis, but then it happens within three or four miles of you to someone you know and you get worried, too.
“People are a little bit more suspicious. You see a lot more electric gates being installed, places being locked up,” concluded Mr Nolan.