Trial finds DNA marking helps slash farm machinery thefts

Farmers say they are winning the battle against agricultural machinery and equipment theft by marking it with a unique DNA coding system.

Following a spate of farm machinery and tool thefts on farms in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, SelectaDNA marking kits were introduced in a bid to deter rural thieves.

The property marking kits contain forensic liquid with a DNA code which enables police to identify property suspected of being stolen in seconds.

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The kits were funded by rural insurer NFU Mutual as part of its support for the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (Sparc).

No new thefts have been reported following the deployment of SelectaDNA marking kits and warning signs on more than 60 farms that had previously been victims of theft. The trial started in February 2022 and is still ongoing.

South Lanarkshire beef farmer and NFU Scotland’s Clydesdale branch chairman, Tom French, said: “A few years ago, this area was being absolutely hammered by quad bike and machinery thefts.

“Police Scotland’s introduction of the Sparc scheme, supported by NFU Mutual funding, has helped reduce these types of crimes and thefts, and now SelectaDNA is proving to be another effective tool to deter criminal activity.”

Scheme expansion

Police inspector Alan Dron, Scotland’s national rural crime co-ordinator, said SelectaDNA was proving to be a huge success story and he was seeking to widen the scheme in Scotland.

“Combined with proactive policing, an extremely strong local rural crime partnership and a number of criminals being caught and locked up, theft of quads, trailers, plant and machinery has significantly reduced in many parts of rural Scotland,” said Insp Dron.

“As a result of the reduction in theft, we’re going to be giving out more kits to vulnerable farms.”

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