Over half of farmers (55 per cent) have been victims of theft, new research from Technological University Dublin (TUD) shows.
Some 17 per cent reported that their home had been burgled, while 28 per cent reported thefts from sheds and farm buildings with 59 per cent of these occurring in the last three years and 13 per cent in the last year.
While most farmers (71 per cent) reported thefts to An Garda Síochána, a proportion of those participating in the survey did not.
The survey was conducted in Autumn 2022 and is based on a sample of 1,330 responses from the farming community.
The research report was conducted by Dr Nicola Hughes and Dr Matt Bowden, criminologists at the School of Social Sciences, Law and Education at TU Dublin.
29 per cent of participants in the survey did not report their experience of theft to An Garda Síochána, compared with 19 per cent in national victim surveys.
The primary reasons given for not reporting were based on a belief that the incident was not serious enough; that the police would do nothing about it; and that there was insufficient evidence to warrant police action.
Researcher Dr Matt Bowden said: “While there has been much attention to issues of rural crime in recent years, we have very little systematic data. This research highlights the Irish farming community’s experience of crime and victimisation, and their perceptions of crime prevention, and helps us to better understand crimes committed against farms and the measures farmers take to prevent their victimisation.”
The survey was made possible through a collaboration with the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), Dr Bowden said.
Other findings from the report show that 60 per cent of participants believe that An Garda Síochána should have a dedicated unit to deal with farm thefts and rural crime.
While farmers are fearful of being burgled, only one-third have an alarm on their dwelling, the report showed.
“Many victims of crime do not report it. If the true extent of crime and victimisation against the farming community is to be understood, then all victims should be encouraged to report the incident,” the report’s co-author Dr Nicola Hughes said.
The underreporting of crime to Gardaí was “concerning,” IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe said.
The views expressed in the report that An Garda Siochana should have a dedicated unit specifically to deal with rural and farming crimes were “supported by IFA,” he added.
“Such units or teams in other similar jurisdictions have proved to be a game-changer and have contributed significantly to reducing criminal activity”, Mr Rushe said.
The research is part of a worldwide project studying aspects of rural crime in 18 participating countries.
TU Dublin’s survey builds on a similar study first carried out in Victoria, Australia.