Organised criminals are targeting West Country farms, with 24 thefts from rural locations in Devon alone over the past seven weeks.
But farmers were still not taking steps to protect their property; many are leaving keys in their vehicles or quad bikes unlocked, police have warned.
“Half the problem is that the keys are still in the ignition and there is no security,” said detective sergeant Adrian Robinson, Devon intelligence supervisor. “It is really frustrating.”
The organised group of criminals was exploring farms during the daytime, and returning at night to carry out the thefts, he said.
“They will steal a 4×4, which usually has the keys in it, then steal a trailer, and go to a third venue that’s got quad bikes, fuel tanks or generators – anything which can be easily lifted.
“The machinery leaves the country very quickly, so the chances of getting it back are slim, although machinery has been recovered as far away as Dubai.”
Devon & Cornwall, , Avon & Somerset and Dorset police forces were all facing the same problem, said detective sergeant Robinson. “This is having such a high impact at the moment. Please, please lock your stuff away and report anything suspicious.”
To contact detective sergeant Robinson call the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary on 08452 777 444.