RURAL crime is on the rise in Hampshire and is costing the county £1m a year.

Thieves have targeted gardens, farms and outbuildings across the county swiping tools, garden equipment and trailers.

The figures have come from a national survey by rural insurers NFU Mutual which found a rise of eight per cent in rural crimes in Hampshire in 2013 - a bigger increase than the UK saw, at 5.2 per cent.

The survey found that these kinds of crimes cost the country £44.5m last year and more than half of the insurers' staff said they had seen more high-value items stolen and customers suffer repeat crimes.

Across the UK, the items most commonly stolen included quad bikes, fuel and tools but in Hampshire thieves mostly took garden equipment, trailers and tools. Theft of livestock also rose.

Now the insurers are urging people to be vigilant.

William Goldie from NFU Mutual's Winchester office said: “The cost of claims is increasing as a result of more high-value items being stolen. That's why it's important to stay vigilant and fight rural crime.

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