Farmers and contractors are being told to make use of pin technology or mark their postcodes on their GPS kit to make it less attractive to criminal gangs.
The plea from rural insurer NFU Mutual and the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) comes as reports of tractor GPS kit thefts continue to rise.
The organisations are urging farmers to make the most of pin-enabled security, if available, on their GPS kit, or to permanently etch their postcodes onto the systems to make it difficult for criminals to sell them on.
“From Scotland to the south of England, north Wales to Norfolk via the north-west, we are receiving even more reports of all makes and models of GPS being stolen from farms and machinery dealerships across the UK,” said NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Rebecca Davidson.
“The thieves clearly know what they are looking for, and we are getting reports of determined criminal gangs using drones to scope out farms, or carefully planning routes around CCTV surveillance to avoid being caught.”
She said although systems could be replaced, the loss of the technology during the busy harvest period could be “debilitating” for some farmers.
“The feeling of being watched and targeted is adding to feelings of anxiety for those living and working in isolated areas,” added Ms Davidson.
DC Chris Piggott from NaVCIS said the message to farmers and machinery dealers was simple – either pin it or pen it.
He said: “If you have pin-enabled technology to protect your GPS system, make sure it’s up and running and if not, daub your postcode on to kit using indelible ink.
“It might not look pretty but it’s a big deterrent to thieves who are stealing systems to sell on across the world. Anything that is identifiable and will trace the kit back to its owner will immediately put the thieves off.”
DC Piggott also urged farmers to report any suspicious sightings to the police, and to be vigilant for stolen goods when buying second-hand kit.
He added: “Buyers are being advised to rigorously check where the systems have come from if buying from outside a dealership, and to be suspicious of anything that has had serial numbers removed.”