Sussex farm latest victim of high-value GPS kit theft

Thieves have stolen GPS systems worth about £200,000 from a Sussex farm in what police believe is the latest in a spate of raids by an organised crime gang.

Thirteen agricultural sat nav systems were ripped from tractors parked up for the night at Sefter Farm, near Bognor Regis, last Thursday (13 August).

Police believe the farm was targeted between midnight and 4am.

See also: Tractor GPS kit worth £131k stolen from West Sussex farms

Speaking to ITV News, Neil Cairns, head of crop production at Sefter Farm, said the theft was a “disaster” for the business.

“We have spent an awful lot of money trying to get this right and then somebody comes and takes it away from you,” he said.

Officers from Sussex police’s rural crime team are investigating if the thefts may be linked to similar incidents elsewhere in the country and given the scale and apparent planning, believe an organised crime group may be responsible.

Sussex Police are appealing for witnesses to call 101, quoting incident number 286 of 13/08.

It follows raids on farms in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk in July. Farmers Weekly has also reported similar thefts on farms across counties including West Sussex, Dorset and Norfolk.

Rural insurer NFU Mutual said the theft of GPS tractor equipment is now a nationwide issue.

Tractor GPS security advice

NFU Mutual has released a number of tips to help farmers and landowners prevent the theft of tractor GPS equipment.

  • Remove GPS guidance receivers, aerials and antenna globes from tractors when not in use, and keep them in a secure locked place whenever possible.
  • Consider fitting security tethers or brackets to stop units being removed.
  • Mark your postcode on GPS units with a UV pen or using the engraving tool of a forensic marking system, such as Datatag.
  • Store machinery in locked buildings whenever possible.
  • Where locking machines away isn’t possible, consider fitting mains or battery-operated alarms to cover the perimeter of areas where machines are stored.
  • CCTV and intruder alarms will deter most thieves. Check regularly to ensure they are in good working order and in a position where they won’t be triggered by animals or foliage moving in the wind.
  • Record machinery serial numbers and take photos of kit to help police identify stolen items and increase the chances of them being recovered.
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