Protect your farm kit from thieves

Claire Wright sets out how you can protect your farm machinery GPS technology from thieves.
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GPS thefts have been on the rise during the 2021 harvest

There has been a spate of GPS thefts from farm machinery across North Wiltshire and Gloucestershire in recent weeks. These items are in high demand and are relatively easy to steal. The police are advising farms with this sort of kit to take precautions to prevent themselves from becoming victims.

Where possible GPS receivers, aerials and antenna globes should be removed and stored in a secure place when not in use or if this isn’t practical fit security tethers that prevent the units from being removed. It is also vital that the equipment has the latest updates and that you make use of security features by changing the pin number away from the default code.

If you can prevent unwanted visitors from gaining access to your yard in the first place by keeping gates locked when you have finished for the night and installing appropriate CCTV and alarm systems then you have already taken one step to deter thieves. There is a range of products available such as the little Uwatch cubes so that even remote yards with no 3G mobile coverage or power source near the entrance can still protect themselves.

We know it is a busy time of year with harvest in full swing and autumn cultivations beginning but if it is at all possible then tractors and machinery should 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.

Make sure that you have noted all the serial numbers of your GPS kit and photographed it; this combined with making the units identifiable as yours by writing your postcode or other identifying mark on them with a UV pen, engraving tool, or forensic marking system increases the chance of being reunited with your items should they be pinched.

Of course, if you are being offered a GPS unit at a bargain price that is far cheaper than your machinery dealer can price it at, then there is usually a reason why. Question why it is so cheap. If it seems too good to be true then there is a real chance that your bargain Ebay or down the pub bargain was stolen from another farmer. Don’t perpetuate the misery of theft to other farming businesses by completing the purchase until you have asked the seller for photos showing the serial number and checking with the manufacturer that it hasn’t been logged as a stolen item.

Finally, if you notice any suspicious vehicles or persons hanging around the farm or see a drone hovering over your land then report it to the police online or via 101 as they might well be scoping your business out ahead of a potential raid.

Claire has also written a post for Crimestoppers, talking about how you can protect your farm machinery from theft. In 2019, tractors and machinery to the value of £9.3 million were stolen – a 25% increase on the previous year. Read more here.

Have a safe and secure autumn.

Key contact:

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Claire Wright National Access Adviser, London