Bands of gangs target GPS farm equipment

Farmer uses GPS in tractor

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Gangs are using e-scooters to sneak on to UK farms and steal high-value GPS technology, an insurer has said.

NFU Mutual stated that the replacement cost for stolen equipment, which is an essential part of modern agriculture, nearly doubled over a year to reach PS2.9m.

The firm stated that “highly-organized criminals” continued to infest farmyards, with quad bikes being also targeted.

It says that the total number of theft claims for 2020 was down 20%, to PS43.3m. This is despite the coronavirus lockdowns.

Equipment for global positioning systems (GPS), such as tractors, can run up to PS10,000 per piece. This helps farmers to map and optimize their land.

According to the insurance company, the technology has “become a top target for rural thieves” around the world.

Rebecca Davidson (NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist) said, “Without GPS… harvests may be delayed and farmers left unable to farm.”

Chris Piggott from the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service stated: “The trend we are seeing is that gangs patiently observe farms from afar to find where expensive tractor GPS kits are stored.

They usually return to the farm at night to steal and now use silent electric scooters to sneak into farms undetected.

He said, “Thieves have also become even more slicker in stealing quad bikes. They watch for hours and rush to farm yards to steal them when they’re not being left alone for a while.”

Insurers’ claims regarding thefts of GPS, quadbikes, and other all-terrain vehicle were more than PS9m. This is a drop in value of only 2 percent from 2019.

NFU Mutual’s annual rural crime report says the overall cost of theft in the UK countryside fell in 2020 because of the lockdown, the existence of more police rural crime teams, and increased farm security.

Wales and Northern Ireland saw large falls of 39.4%, 36.9%, respectively. Scotland suffered a 25 percent decrease.

The levels of theft claims fell in different regions across England. They varied from 9.7% in the North East, to a decrease of 25.3% in the Midlands. North West saw a 3.3% increase in claims.

About a quarter of the livestock thefts were reduced.

NFU Mutual stated that the NFU Mutual report showed that the value of cattle and sheep attacked by dogs increased in 2020 due to an increase in pet ownership and visits in the country.

NFU Mutual also highlighted other trends such as fly-tipping on country roads and fields, which NFU Mutual said had reached epidemic proportions.

Cybercrime is a rising threat to farmers, as phishing emails regarding farm payments are being sent, and there are also scam ads for machinery.

NFU Mutual is the UK’s largest farmer insurance company and has announced that it will invest PS430,000 into rural security programs in 2021.

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Publiated at Tue, 3 Aug 2021 11:23:31 +0000

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