20 February 1998

Fast action to track stolen goods

A SCHEME to combat the theft of agricultural vehicles and machinery, and to aid the swift recovery of those that are stolen has been launched in the north-west.

"TAMR (The Agricultural Machinery Register) has the full backing of the Special Forces Intelligence Bureau, local police and insurance companies," says Dave Brereton, who has launched the scheme after the theft of his own Manitou telehandler.

Last May, after discovering the the theft, Mr Brereton reported the incident to the police. Although now working successfully with the police since launching TAMR, Mr Brereton says his initial dealings with them highlighted the need for a much more efficient system.

"Almost three hours elapsed between discovering the theft and the police leaving the farm with details of the stolen vehicle. It was hard to make them realise that this was not just a farm tractor but a specialist and expensive machine."

Mr Brereton was put in touch with the SFIB, which was set-up about 20 months ago to deal with the rise in vehicle theft, particularly agricultural machinery. The SFIB works closely with the police and port authorities.

"I learned of SFIBs problems in tracing stolen machinery. They were unable to identify individual vehicles; local police lacked knowledge of specialist agricultural equipment and communication was slow."

The aim of TAMR is to overcome these problems, says Mr Brereton, by deterring the thief, aiding the police to recover stolen vehicles and assisting insurance companies.

The TAMR system allocates vehicles with an individual number which is steel stamped in various places on the vehicle. All windows are sandblast engraved and other less obvious locations are also marked. Owners are supplied with warning stickers saying that the vehicle is registered. Vehicles are also photographed and details entered on a registration document and transferred to a database.

Full details of immediate procedure should a theft occur are also provided.

"As soon as a theft occurs and it is logged with the 24-hour phone-line over 80 police forces and port authorities are informed. Criminals make valuable use of the time between the actual theft and the crime being reported. This system cuts that time to a minimum.

"When the police arrive all the owner has to do is provide a copy of the document of the stolen vehicle. It contains all the relevant details and can quickly enable a stolen vehicle to be identified, something that may need to be done while the vehicle is in transit."

Mr Brereton is about to launch the scheme nationwide and hopes to set up a register with machinery auctions to inform potential buyers of machines that are TAMR registered. Details on 01270-610612. &#42

TAMRshould aid the swift recovery of stolen machinery.