Rural landowners in the district are being urged to review their security arrangements to cut the risk of thefts of equipment and vehicles.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said a combination of dark nights and economic uncertainty is a “recipe for an increase in rural crime”.

CLA North regional director Dorothy Fairburn said: “At this time of year, with its short days and long nights, there is always an increase in countryside crime.

“With the added catalysts of a fragile economy and belt-tightening measures, we are already starting to see a swell of rural crime such as theft and fly-tipping.

“Crime in rural areas takes many forms and is made easier for the perpetrator by the relative isolation of homes and businesses, a maze of county lanes unmonitored by CCTV, lack of street lighting, miles of legal public access close to properties and low visible police presence.”

The CLA is advising farmers and landowners to take simple steps to protect themselves and their property such as not leaving tools lying around, ensuring keys are removed from vehicles and that sheds and other outbuildings are properly secured.