Forestry Journal:

This piece is an extract from our A View from the Forest (previously Forestry Features) newsletter, which is emailed out at 4PM every Wednesday with a round-up of the week's top stories. 

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IT doesn't take the imagination of Roald Dahl to picture the likely scenario. 

Trees tower over head, stretching as far as the eye can see. There are few CCTV cameras and even fewer people (if any at all). The chance of being caught are almost zero and the reward potentially lucrative, given the bounty can consist of machinery worth tens of thousands of pounds. By the time the victim realises what's gone down, it'll be another month before the local bobbies arrive, assuming a call agent, based in a city, hundreds of miles away, has sent them to the right place. 

When you put it like that, it's no wonder Charlie Croker and his mates are increasingly eyeing rural Britain as the go-to spot for some thievery. Why bother pouncing on hard-pressed families in suburbia when you can instead pounce on just as hard-pressed rural workers, only with an infinitely better chance of getting off Scot-free? 

Forestry Journal: Forestry workers often find themselves in isolated settings Forestry workers often find themselves in isolated settings (Image: Getty/stock)

There will be forestry workers up and down the UK who have had to endure the heartache of seeing their shiny, new kit disappear without a trace. Heck, there are numerous examples across the Forestry Journal archive that detail just that. But it's been brought into sharp focus by the launch of a new report into the growing problem of rural crime. 

Commissioned by the National Rural Crime Network and published by Durham University, an investigation found that "serious organised criminals including those linked to the international drug" are increasingly targeting the country's rural communities.

Rather than simply being opportunistic thieves, the report argued many crimes are committed by ‘prolific rural offenders’, and that foreign organised crime networks are also deeply involved in sustaining the UK’s rural crime problem by creating international transportation and disposal routes for goods stolen from the countryside.

Additionally, the report revealed that 22 organised crime gangs are actively involved in rural crime across the UK. 

None of this makes for very pretty reading, nor will it be anything unfamiliar to the country's forestry workforce, which often finds itself working in isolation, a long way away from neighbours or any potential eyewitnesses. Reports like this are also a reminder of the importance of doing all you can to protect your rural property, and it's worth checking out our 2024 buyer's guide on security solutions, which details some of the latest innovations on the market right now. 

Forestry Journal: Victoria Vyvyan said crime placed a heavy burden on rural communities Victoria Vyvyan said crime placed a heavy burden on rural communities (Image: CLA)

“People in rural areas are paying higher and higher taxes but often feel that policing in their communities is not a priority," said Tim Passmore, chair of the NRCN. CLA president Victoria Vyvyan added: “Serious and organised crime has a heavy burden on already-isolated rural communities up and down the country." 

Isolated rural communities are already facing innumerable challenges. Feeling safe on their own property should not be one of them.