Tractor theft claims costs have risen sharply in eastern and south-east regions of England for the first nine months of this year, figures from NFU Mutual show.
Provisional claims data shows that overall UK tractor theft was 2% lower from January to September than for the same period of 2014.
However, while falls in tractor theft have been recorded in a number of regions so far this year, there has been a rise in East Anglia, the Midlands, and south-east England.
See also: Tractor thefts rise by 10% in Scotland
In East Anglia tractor theft claims rose by 17% with the Midlands and the South East recording increases of 14% and 8%, respectively.
NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Tim Price said criminal gangs appeared to be targeting farms to steal tractors where there is better access to roads and ports.
“After a welcome fall in tractor theft in 2014, it’s very encouraging that we appear to be seeing further falls in the months to the end of September 2015,” said Mr Price.
“We think the fall is due to take-up of security devices such as Cesar marking and other immobiliser and tracking devices on tractors and more effective policing of docks, which is making it harder for international gangs to get tractors out of the country to eastern Europe and beyond.
“That said, there’s no room for complacency – we’re still seeing significant numbers of tractor being stolen. Eastern counties remain the most vulnerable, and we have seen jump in claims in our September figures.”
In August, Farmers Weekly reported that 15 quad bikes a week are stolen on farms in the UK.
Mr Price said thieves were continuing to target quads on farms, although the insurer has seen a small fall in claims costs for the first nine months of 2015.
“Quads remain pretty much at the top of farm thieves’ top 10 hit list – and we are seeing more thefts taking place in the Midlands, North East of England and South West of England,” he added.
Tractor theft peaked in 2010, costing NFU Mutual £10m alone in claims. Since then, better tractor security and a more joined-up approach between farmers, NFU Mutual, police forces – both in the UK and overseas – and port authorities has seen thefts fall.
Farm Security events
To help famers understand rural crime trends in their area and put in place the best security measures for their individual farm layouts and machinery, NFU Mutual’s agricultural vehicle security specialist Clive Harris will be available to talk to farmers at three farm security clinics being held at three forthcoming agricultural events.
The events are:
- NFU Mutual stand at the Welsh Winter Fair, Builth Wells (30 Nov-1 Dec)
- Farm Security Exhibit at Agriscot, Edinburgh (18 Nov)
- NFU Mutual stand at LAMMA, Peterborough (20-21 Jan)
Five tips to prevent tractor theft
- Use CCTV technology, CESAR registration, immobilisers and tracking devices to protect farm vehicles. For more information visit http://www.cesarscheme.org/
- Mark farm machinery with your postcode or a DNA marking product such as Datatag (see http://www.datatag.co.uk/)
- Work with police and other farmers through Neighbourhood and Farm Watch schemes
- Never leave tractor unattended while the engine is still running and always remove keys from the ignition when not in use
- Close yard gates, lock up machinery or move it out of sight. Avoid leaving machinery in isolated locations or fields – particularly near roads – where they can be removed without attracting attention.