THE cost to the local economy of rural crime in Somerset was up 9% to £1.2million last year, according to a survey by NFU Mutual.

Tools, quad bikes and garden equipment were the most targeted items and many victims suffered repeat crimes.

An NFU spokesman said: “Although high-value thefts may be planned and highly organised, the number of stolen garden tools and ornaments indicates opportunist thieves continue to target gardens and outbuildings.”

NFU Somerset-based agent Naomi Parker said: “The cost of claims is increasing as a result of more highvalue items being stolen.

“Our experience with people who live and work in rural areas of Somerset clearly shows that theft is more than just a setback – it can be devastating for businesses and families.

“One of the rural community’s best assets is its people who can work together to safeguard the local neighbourhood.”