John Deere is investigating ways of making its satellite steering systems more secure following a spate of thefts from tractors in eastern England.

Some 20 Starfire receivers and Greenstar displays have gone missing from farms in Norfolk and Lincolnshire over recent months – at a total cost of about £200,000.

Georg Larscheid, integrated solutions implementation manager at John Deere, said the company was looking at various ways of deterring thieves.

One method being considered is introducing a way of disabling stolen equipment remotely – similar to the way telecom companies are able to disable a phone remotely.

“The best advice I can offer at the moment is to be aware, watch out and don’t leave systems in or on your tractors. It will help to reduce theft.”
Georg Larscheid, John Deere

This would effectively render a stolen piece of equipment useless, making it much less valuable and much less attractive to criminals.

But it would be a while before remote locking was introduced.

“We are probably talking at least one or two years,” said Mr Larscheid. “When you do something like that you are talking about a new generation of equipment.”

 

Another security method would be to integrate the equipment within vehicles, making it more difficult to remove, said Mr Larscheid.

But this would bring its own challenges, he cautioned.

“We make the equipment easily removable because operators like to use it in more than one machine or vehicle. But that also means it is easy for a thief to remove it too.”

In the meantime, operators should remove valuable equipment from vehicle cabs and tractors roofs, taking it home at the end of each day after working in the field, said Mr Larscheid.

“The best advice I can offer at the moment is to be aware, watch out and don’t leave systems in or on your tractors. It will help to reduce theft.”

Police investigating the thefts have asked farmers to remain vigilant and call 101 if they see anyone acting suspiciously in or around farm machinery.

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