THE COST OF RURAL CRIME HAS RISEN TO £44.5M AS ORGANISED CRIMINAL GANGS TARGET FARM MACHINERY, reports the BBC. Farmers are resorting to “medieval fortifications” such as earthworks to protect their property, according to NFU Mutual. Police said that the global demand for agricultural equipment was attracting organised crime. Thefts of quad bikes, agricultural vehicles and 4x4s have driven the 13.4% increase in crime over the last year. Gloucestershire Police have even begun helping local landowners to dig trenches and earth banks to stop thieves from driving 4x4s onto farmland. One farmer acknowledged that it wouldn’t deter a determined thief, but it should prevent a casual theft.