Warning after spate of harvest GPS thefts in West Country

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has issued advice on protecting high-tech farm equipment after a spate of thefts in the West Country this harvest.

Thieves are increasingly targeting smaller, high-value equipment such as GPS receivers, aerials and antenna globes. Thefts have been reported from farm machinery in north Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

These items are in high demand and are relatively easy to steal, CLA surveyor Claire Wright explained.

See also: Rural crime falls but farms still at risk from ‘slicker’ thieves

“These should be removed and stored in a secure place when not in use,” Ms Wright said. “If this isn’t practical, fit security tethers that prevent the units from being removed.”

She added that equipment should be regularly updated to ensure it was protected by the latest security features and PINs should be changed from the default code.

Farmers and growers should also note and photograph the serial numbers of GPS kit and engrave identifying marks such as a postcode.

Despite the heavy summer and autumn workload, Ms Wright suggested tractors and machinery should ideally be stored in locked buildings when not in use.

“It adds an extra deterrent to a casual thief who will look for an easier target,” she said.

She also recommended that equipment stores, the farmyard and other buildings should be protected.

Keeping gates locked at night and installing appropriate CCTV and alarm systems are major steps towards deterring thieves, Ms Wright said.

And she suggested security products were available that could be installed and operated without the need for wi-fi or power source.

Check bargain-priced kit for sale

The CLA has also called for farmers to be wary of buying bargain-priced kit.

If it seems too good to be true then there is a real chance that bargain was stolen from another farmer, the CLA said.

Don’t perpetuate the misery of theft to other farming businesses by completing the purchase.

“Ask the seller for photos showing the serial number and checking with the manufacturer that it hasn’t been logged as a stolen item,” the organisation suggested.

Report suspicious activity

Finally, any suspicious vehicles or persons or drones around farms should be reported to the police online or via 101. Criminals may well be scoping out the business ahead of a potential raid.

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