Rural crime in Hampshire cost residents more than £1.3million last year, figures suggest.

According to provisional data gathered by NFU Mutual, the county saw a 21 per cent year-on-year rise.

Strategic Rural Inspector at Hampshire Constabulary, Korine Bishop said: “This rise in rural crime has for the most part been caused by a number of thefts of plant and quad bikes in the north and east of the county.

“As a result, we have set up a new initiative to target these criminals, allied to work taking place across the country, and this has already had success.

“We have carried out days of action involving officers from our dedicated Country Watch team, neighbourhood policing teams, response and patrol and bordering police forces.

“The focus has been on burglaries at residential properties in rural areas, such as the targeting of barns and outbuildings, and business burglaries, such as at farms.

“A number of arrests have been made and several high value items have been recovered."

The news comes as the company published an annual report indicating the cost of rural crime in the UK rose almost 9 per cent in 12 months to £54 million last year – and up 0.6 per cent to £8.7m in the South East.

“We want to reassure residents in rural areas that offenders who try and carry out criminal activities in the countryside are being robustly targeted by police," Inspector Bishop added.

“Rural crime is a priority for us and we will continue to relentlessly pursue suspects and prevent them from using the road networks.

“The community are our eyes and ears and we encourage you to report all incidents as soon as you are able to."