Farmers have been urged to increase their security measures and take steps to protect their tractors following a rise in thefts of GPS kit.
The plea from rural insurer NFU Mutual comes following a surge in thefts of tractor GPS kit south of the border.
“We’re seeing a resurgence in GPS theft in some areas and we are concerned it could spread to other parts of the UK,” said Bob Henderson, who is head of NFU Mutual’s agricultural engineering field team.
“Thieves are stealing all makes and models of GPS control units, together with screens and domes. It’s worryingly similar to last year’s unprecedented surge in GPS theft, which saw equipment stolen from farms across the UK.”
He said thieves were taking advantage of increased spring activity on farms to identify targets and lockdown measures easing may lead to criminals travelling more.
“These criminals are well-organised and know what they are looking for – so it’s essential that farmers remove GPS kit when possible when it’s not in use and store it securely,” added Mr Henderson.
“It’s also well worth beefing up security in farm yards, machinery sheds and on tractors to make it harder for thieves to operate.”
Although the recent spate of thefts has happened south of the border, Police Scotland is urging Scottish farmers to take precautions to protect their equipment.
Inspector Alan Dron, Police Scotland’s rural crime co-ordinator, said: “Despite recent success in apprehending individuals responsible for multiple theft of GPS kits in various areas of Scotland, it is clear from colleagues south of the border this is once again on the increase.
“I would urge crofters, farmers and landowners who utilise the GPS kits to be vigilant plus actively take preventative measures which make it harder for anyone determined on committing crime.”
Preventative measures recommended by NFU Mutual and the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) include activating pin security on GPS kit or marking kit with farm names and postcodes in indelible ink or forensically.
DC Chris Piggott, who co-ordinates the agricultural vehicle crime unit at NaVCIS, also urged farmers to think twice before purchasing second-hand GPS kit online.
He said: “Although police have shut some bugs sellers down, they are emerging again under false names and purporting to be UK sellers.
“Anyone considering a purchase should get photos showing serial numbers before parting with any money and check with the manufacturer that it is not recorded stolen on their system before completing the transaction.”
DC Piggott added: “We also urge farmers to report suspicious activity including drones over farms, vehicles visiting that are not known to the farm, or trespassers on 101, and if a crime is taking place call 999.”