Farmers have been urged to increase the security of farm equipment as rising scrap metal prices have lured thieves onto farms.

Police in Leicestershire and Rutland have warned farmers to take care after a spate of thefts by opportunist thieves believed to be stealing for scrap.

Bob Scott, Leicestershire police’s rural crime officer, said some of the obstructions farmers had put to block gateways had also been taken.

“Our advice to farmers in rural areas is to be a little bit more protective about where they put things and how they secure them.”

Massey ferguson tractor 8690

Thefts of diesel had also increased from farm property, showing the need to protect large diesel tanks, he added,

“People put locks on the issuing part of the fuel tank, where the fuel comes out, but forget this outlet is fed from the tank by a plastic hose which is often left unprotected and unsecured.

“However, even this level of security may not be sufficient protection as some gangs drill straight into the metal diesel tank.”

According to NFU Mutual, farm machinery thefts in England rose by 41% in 2007.

Terry Price, of NFU Mutual Risk Management Services, said: “Rural thieves were proving remarkably quick to identify new sources of illicit income.

“In our latest published rural crime figures for 2007, we saw a huge rise in metal thefts as commodity prices rose.

“Farmers have had irrigation pipes, gates, and even heavy pieces of machinery taken by metal thieves.”