Farmers warned of surge in GPS thefts

Claudia Paulussen - Fotolia
Farmers are being warned of a new rural crime wave after 24 tractor GPS kits were stolen from West Sussex farming businesses in a recent spate of rural crime.

The GPS kits, totalling over £130,000 were taken from farm businesses in a 10-15 mile radius from late February. Other farms in the South East have been targeted, with latest reports of thefts coming in from Oxfordshire.

Rebecca Davidson, NFU Mutual Rural Affairs Specialist, said: “Theft of GPS equipment is now a serious problem for farmers. We first saw thieves targeting GPS equipment from arable farms in East Anglia and the crime has now spread to other parts of the country. Thieves appear to be targeting farms in one locality, and then moving their activity to another area to avoid detection.

“Used extensively by farmers to ensure that seed, fertiliser and sprays are delivered in precise amounts while also making harvesting more efficient, GPS kits typically cost over £10,000.

“Rural thieves tend to target high-value but portable items - and this appears to be what is driving this rural crime trend.

“In an attempt to stop thieves targeting GPS kit, manufacturers now provide PIN numbers to prevent the equipment being used by others.

“Most GPS kit in use on farms today is fitted to tractors as an easily-removable accessory. To prevent thefts, farmers have been removing the kit when it’s not in use and storing it under lock and key.

“This trend is deeply worrying for farmers who are investing in hi-tech equipment to make their farms more efficient and reduce pollution.”

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