Police urge Lancashire farmers to look out for stolen GPS tech after spate of thefts

Farmers in Lancashire are being urged to be extra careful when buying second-hand tractor technology after a recent spate of thefts.

By Phil Cunnington
Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 3:45 pm

As part of a national trend, farmers in the county are seeing a spike in GPS kit thefts. Twelve incidents have been reported in the area in last two weeks, including four farms hit on the same road in one night.

Across Europe, thefts of tractor GPS systems have surged as criminals target the expensive guidance systems now extensively used to guide farm machinery.

In the UK, thefts have spread from East Anglia, where they first became commonplace, and police and insurers are now dealing with thefts all across the UK. In recent weeks, NaVCIS, the police agricultural vehicle theft co-ordination organisation funded by NFU Mutual, is being alerted to multiple GPS thefts from farms and machinery dealers almost every day.

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Valuable GPS technology is used to guide farm machinery, such as tractors

To help stamp out the crime wave, farmers are being urged to rigorously check that any GPS kit offered for sale outside dealer networks has not been stolen.

Jo Oliver, Senior Agent at NFU Mutual in Preston, said: “We’ve seen a surge of GPS thefts in the Lancashire area, with 12 incidents reported over the last two weeks. One evening saw four farms on the same road all hit in the same night. Even vehicles that are secured, with systems wired in, are seeing GPS kit dismantled and taken.

“Having tractor GPS kit stolen during harvest is hugely disruptive. Not only do replacement units – which can cost £8,000 and more – have to be sourced, fitted and programmed, but modern farms can’t work effectively without them.

“As the main insurer of the UK’s farmers, we are working with police and tractor manufacturers to tackle this worrying new crime trend.”

Superintendent Andy Huddleston, national police lead for agricultural machinery and vehicle thefts, said: “Making careful checks on the provenance of any GPS kit offered for sale outside the dealer network can stop criminals making money from these crimes and halt the surge.”

He also urged farmers to be very wary of buying GPS kits which have had serial number stickers removed.

NFU Mutual GPS security checklist:

* Activate PIN security on GPS kit with your own unique number

* Keep tractors and combines with GPS fitted stored out of sight when possible

* Check serial numbers of second-hand kit offered for sale

* Remove GPS kit from tractors and other machinery and store it securely when not in use