Three arrests made in tractor GPS theft investigation

Officers investigating a spate of tractor GPS thefts across the North West have arrested three people.

Cheshire Constabulary’s rural crime team has been investigating the thefts since the end of last year, working with farmers and Merseyside Police’s wildlife crime team and Lancashire Police’s rural task force.

In the early hours of Thursday 13 May, officers searched two addresses in the Bootle area of Sefton, Merseyside.

See also: Farmers advised to check GPS is insured against theft

They arrested three people from Merseyside – men aged 24 and 23, and a 25-year-old woman – on suspicion of conspiracy to steal.

The officers also seized three vehicles as part of the investigation.

Superintendent Simon Meegan, the head of rural and wildlife crime at Cheshire Constabulary, said: “All makes and models of GPS control units are targeted by thieves, together with screens and domes.

“In Cheshire alone, we estimate that about half a million pounds worth of GPS equipment has been stolen since the back end of last year.

Protecting GPS systems from thieves

NFU Mutual has issued the following advice:

  • Activate PIN security on GPS kit with your own unique number if available
  • If your system is not PIN enabled, mark your postcode to deter thieves and trace your property back to you
  • Keep tractors and combines with GPS fitted stored out of sight when possible
  • Remove GPS kit when possible from tractors and other machinery and store it securely when not in use
  • Record serial numbers and photograph your kit
  • Check serial numbers of second-hand kit offered for sale

“A range of enquiries in relation to the tractor GPS thefts are ongoing.

“While we undertake these enquiries, I urge anyone with such equipment to review your security measures and take steps to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of this type of crime.”

Security advice

Bob Henderson, who leads NFU Mutual’s agricultural engineering field team, said: “Thieves are taking advantage of increased spring activity on farms to identify targets and, with lockdown easing, criminals may feel able to travel without risk of being stopped.

“These criminals are well-organised and know what they are looking for, so it’s essential that farmers remove GPS kit, when possible, when it is not in use and store it securely.

“It’s also well worth beefing up security in farm yards, machinery sheds and on tractors to make it harder for thieves to operate.”

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