Schemes launched to tackle farm thefts

A series of crime-prevention initiatives are being launched to help tackle agricultural machinery thefts, which cost the farming industry millions of pounds every year.

Police forces and insurers are teaming up with farmers to help them secure their businesses and agricultural machinery.

In Suffolk, Safer Neighbourhood teams will visit 400 farms over the next three months to build stronger links with the rural community. Funded by Suffolk Police Authority, the campaign will see officers hand out farm surveys to farmers in Babergh.

Farmers will also be encouraged to sign up to the Farmwatch scheme, which gives up-to-date crime details in a bid to help farmers protect themselves.

Insp Paul Crick said the campaign would allow the police to improve communication with farmers.

“When the consultation surveys are returned, further decisions can be made as to how we can all work more closely together to reduce crime,” he added.

NFU Mutual has also launched a “super-secure” tractor tour in a bid to reduce tractor and agricultural vehicle theft, which last year cost the rural insurer £10m.

The John Deere tractor, which will attend rural events in the Thames Valley, carries a variety of security markings, tracking and other anti-theft devices.

Tim Price, NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist, said the high cost of tractors and organised gangs stealing machinery to order meant farmers had to be more proactive in protecting their vehicles.

“To help farmers tackle the problem, NFU Mutual currently offers substantial discounts on insurance premiums for tractors fitted with approved tracking devices and immobilisers,” he added.

Meanwhile Cumbria Police are hosting a web chat later this month so farmers can ask questions and share tips on how to stop crime.

From 12.30-2.30pm on Thursday 26 April, farmers and residents of rural communities will be able to speak to officers and give feedback on crime prevention advice.

Officers will also offer information on how to secure farms, machinery and farm houses.

More information and help in setting a reminder to take part here.

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