Farmers are being told to up their security measures following a rise in GPS kit thefts on farms south of the border.
NFU Mutual says GPS systems have become one of the most frequently-stolen items from farms due to their high value and portability, with the national cost of claims for GPS theft almost doubling to £2.9 million in 2020.
The rural insurer is now urging farmers to upgrade their security measures as it is concerned criminals could be planning to use the busy harvest period to get on farms and steal GPS equipment.
“We know that criminals are still trying to steal GPS kits and will take advantage of the coming harvest period when farmers are working long hours to get onto farms unseen and machinery is away from the farmstead,” said NFU Mutual’s agricultural engineering specialist Bob Henderson.
“GPS is a vital tool on modern farms and thefts cause huge disruption as it can take days to source new equipment.
“We are urging farmers to remove systems when they’re not in use and keep them securely.”
He said NFU Mutual had provided financial support to the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) on work, which has successfully cut the number of GPS thefts over the past year.
However, in recent weeks thefts have been reported in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire.
DC Chris Piggott, agricultural vehicle crime co-ordinator at NaVCIS, said GPS theft was an international crime with many countries across the globe experiencing thefts and attempts to sell stolen equipment back into the farming sector.
He added: “There are also homegrown-criminals stealing GPS systems as people turn to criminal activity to make a quick buck.
“These criminals are well-organised and know what they are looking for – so it’s essential to remove GPS kit from tractors and combines when they’re not in use and store them securely.”
DC Piggott also urged farmers to use indelible ink to mark GPS cases and domes with their farm name and postcode, and to activate PIN security on systems.
He added: “Some stolen GPS kits are offered for sale in the UK.
“One of the best things farmers can do to reduce this crime is to carefully check the provenance of any second-hand equipment offered for sale – including checking if it’s legitimate with the manufacturer.”
NFU Mutual’s GPS security checklist
- Activate PIN security on GPS kit with your own unique number if available
- If your system is not pin enabled, mark with your postcode to deter thieves and trace your property back to you
- Keep tractors and combines with GPS fitted stored out of sight when possible
- Remove GPS kit when possible from tractors and other machinery and store it securely when not in use
- Record serial numbers and photograph your kit
- Check serial numbers of second-hand kit offered for sale
- Report sightings of suspicious activity in fields and farmyards to police