ATM raids involving farm vehicles and plant machinery have become a recurring feature in our national news, with unsecured plant machinery, such as diggers or JCBs - often stolen from nearby sites – used to rip ATMs from buildings.
The myth that ATM thefts are victimless crimes can be quickly discounted: such attacks cause untold disruption and loss to individuals, businesses and communities in terms of the loss of costly equipment, delays in production, damage to the local economy, and the likelihood of criminal finances being redirected back into funding further organised crime or terrorism.
Attacks are more frequent in, but not exclusive to, the rural community and often the whole community loses out on a banking facility and the associated convenience of a local grocery store; people may have to travel considerable distances to visit the closest bank facility.
For Northern Ireland’s Organised Crime Task Force, or “OCTF”, which provides the multi-agency response to organised crime in Northern Ireland, prevention is key and OCTF partners are highlighting the practical steps that owners of farm vehicles and plant machinery can take to protect their property and help frustrate potential attacks.
Keeping vehicles and machinery safe
Plant and machinery crime can be reduced by adopting a few simple measures. Prevention is about having practices and routines in place:
q Secure or immobilise stored vehicles.
q If practical, move machinery from fields when not in use, especially if near a road.
q Never leave ignition keys in machinery when not in use.
q Make sure there are secure storage areas for all machinery that has to be left on-site overnight.
q Mark property overtly and covertly to make it less appealing to thieves. Registering it with approved bodies to make it easier to return should it be stolen and recovered.
q When buying or hiring machinery ask the seller for the plant identification document which will contain the item’s unique identification numbers and the serial numbers of other parts.
q Take a photo of your machines, serial numbers and any identifying marks; store these on the cloud on services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud to have a safe record of your valuables.
q Consider fitting trackers to your most valuable vehicles.
q Be alert to drone activity over your premises.
q Deter would-be thieves by displaying security signs on-site to highlight security measures in place such as CCTV.
q Ensure all family members and staff have a good working knowledge of security procedures.
q Encourage staff to report anything suspicious.
q Regularly review security practices for each site, including how machinery is stored.
Reporting rural crime
q Machinery such as tractors and plant equipment are often stolen using a trailer. Sometimes articulated lorries are used to take larger items directly from fields.
If you see a large vehicle and trailer, with or without machinery or plant loaded on the back, in an area you don’t expect them to be, or at an unusual time of day please report it.
q If you have been a victim of crime or want to report suspicious activity please contact:
PSNI on 999 in case of an emergency;
PSNI on 101 for a non-emergency or general situation or
Crimestoppers on 0800 7830137 – a completely anonymous service.