Warning after spike in tractor GPS thefts on farms

Farmers are being urged to step up security this harvest after a recent spike in the theft of GPS equipment from tractors and combine harvesters.

More than £10,000 worth of GPS equipment has been stolen from 11 tractors on a farm in Cambridgeshire.

Thieves struck at the farm in Barway Road, Soham, sometime between 3pm and Saturday 11 July and 7am on Sunday 12 July.

See also: Farmers and police join forces against rural criminals

A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire Police said: “We’re encouraging farmers to remove the screens and other valuables when leaving their vehicles and, where possible, parking them in secure, alarmed buildings.

“If that isn’t possible, park them in well-lit areas covered by CCTV.”

“Be on the lookout and report suspicious behaviour to us via 101, and always dial 999 if a crime is in progress.”

Suffolk farm raids

Meanwhile, police are investigating two incidents of high-value farming equipment being stolen in Suffolk. 

The first took place at a farm at Framsden sometime between Tuesday 7 July and Monday 13 July. A Star Fir 2630 GPS receiver unit and the in-cab display were stolen from a combine harvester that was stored in a barn.

In the second incident, thieves entered a farmyard in Elmswell between 6pm on Friday 10 July and 6.30am on Saturday 11 July at 6.30am.

They drilled the lock out of five tractors and combines and stole the GPS systems. The value is estimated to be in the region of £100,000.

Anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity, has experienced similar attempted theft of such equipment or has knowledge of being offered such GPS devices for sale is asked to contact police on 101.

GPS kits typically cost more than £10,000 and help ensure that seed, fertiliser and sprays are delivered in precise amounts, making harvesting more efficient.

Nationwide thefts

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

Over the past eight months, Farmers Weekly has reported similar thefts on farms across counties, including West Sussex, Dorset and Norfolk.

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 an option, consider fitting mains or battery-operated alarms to cover around 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 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.
  • Let employees know the security arrangements that are expected of them while working on the farm.
  • Join local Farmwatch or social media security groups to keep in touch with rural crime trends in your area.
  • Encourage farm staff to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour or vehicles to the police on 101, or dial 999 in an emergency.
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