Unlike every rule, there are no exceptions when it comes to theft. From pieces of luggage to tons of Nutella, and even identities can be stolen. Now, even the industry of agriculture has suffered due to an increasing number of cases of people stealing farm equipment.
In 2018, the cases of farm equipment theft in the United Kingdom have seen a record seven-year high, according to rural insurer NFU Mutual. The total losses amounted to over £50 million, with a 26% increase in claims for stolen tractors, quad-bikes, and the like causing the big increase.
Tim Price, from the NFU Mutual, told BBC: "Farmers and country people are suffering from high levels of anxiety due to repeated thefts by gangs who take advantage of farms' isolated locations to steal machinery, raid tool stores and even butcher sheep in the fields.
"In a single generation, country people have seen rural crime change from the opportunist theft of a single lamb, to brazen heists of tractors worth over £100,000 and rustlers stealing hundreds of sheep."
More Cases of Farm Equipment Theft
In January 2017, Pennsylvania State Police went to investigate a case of farm equipment theft in Dauphin County, Halifax, business. According to a report, two Kubota RTVs were stolen from Messick’s Farm Equipment. The RTVs were loaded onto a trailer and taken away in an unknown direction.
In November 2019, a tip from a passerby led authorities to the discovery of stolen tractors worth $300,000. The pieces of equipment were long reported stolen, but it wasn’t until the tip that they were found. Police said the stolen properties were inside a box trailer, and another 20 pieces of stolen equipment were found at a property off North Dos Palos Road. One person was arrested in relation to the crime.
According to Firebaugh Police, they are constantly dealing with cases of farm equipment theft, which often end up costing farmers thousands of dollars.
"Chemicals, farm equipment, a lot of it that gets shipped down into Mexico," said Sgt. Bernard Ortiz.
According to Transpoco Telematics, while farm equipment theft was considered rare in the past, farmers have become an easy target recently. This is due to the development of cars. Because technological advancements make it harder to steal cars, thieves turn to tractors and similar vehicles. Majority of these stolen equipment are taken to countries like Germany, Hungary, or Romania. Batteries and motors are taken out of these tractors and are then sold on the black market.
How to Prevent Farm Equipment Theft
As cases of farm equipment theft increase, the harder preventing them from happening is. But worry not, as there are ways on how to curb the statistics. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to prevent your equipment from being the next target.
- Join a watch program.
It pays to join a watch program in your neighborhood so you have everyone to look out for your equipment. Neighborhood watch programs have been proven to lower crime rate, so make the most out of it. Some neighborhoods have a system where members take turns patrolling the area. See if there’s one in your area and join the program. This makes your equipment a little safer from getting stolen.
- Use locks and enhance your lighting.
Improve security measures in your farm, and by security measures, we mean as simple as the locks and lights in the area. You cannot store every equipment you have in the shed, so those that cannot be stored there, find a means to lock them up. You can use chains and padlocks for tanks of fuel and small equipment. Also, you should use a secure lock for your pens and for the storage area of your heavy equipment.
Lights also add an extra layer of protection for your equipment. Thieves like moving in darkness, because in the dark, they are less likely to get caught. So it pays to install motion-sensor lights in the area where you store the equipment. You can also use timer lights that go on on sundown; they are affordable but an effective way to secure your property.
- Never leave your keys with vehicles.
Don’t make the thieves’ job easier by leaving your keys with the vehicles. Always keep them separated from your tractor or similar equipment. If possible, take it with you as often as you take the key for your car.
This, however, may not be an effective move, as some tractors can be run using a universal key. Or if the thief has a tractor of the same make and model, their key will still work on the one they stole from you. So it is better if you can set a system where universal keys won’t work on your tractor. That way, it won’t be easy for the robber to make use of your tractor.
- Keep records.
Improve record keeping. This remains one of the ways to prevent your farm equipment from getting stolen that easily or to make retrieving them way faster. Keep a meticulous record of their makes, models, serial number, and include photos of your equipment. This becomes handy should you have to file a report with the police or for insurance claims. You can also register your heavy equipment through the National Equipment Register. NER offers ways on how to track your stolen equipment, making it easier for you to recover them.
- Use GPS trackers.
What if one of your properties does get stolen? How are you going to retrieve them? GPS trackers are here to solve your problem.
GPS trackers are small, lightweight devices that, when attached to an object, will give you the object’s real-time location information. So you can just attach one of these onto your equipment and recover them easily should they get stolen. These trackers also have what is called geofencing feature. You can set an area that is considered “safe,” and when the object goes beyond this preset area, you will be immediately notified.
Since it is dangerous for you to go after the thieves yourself, you can just give the location information to authorities and they will retrieve the equipment for you.
GPS trackers are a small price to pay for a layer of security you cannot get from anything else. If you think attaching one to all of your equipment is too much, you can just attach them to the heavy ones or anything you deem more important than the rest.
If you don’t know which GPS tracker to get, Tracki makes a good choice. It works worldwide and works on four tracking technologies: GPS, GSM, Bluetooth, and WiFi tracking. It is also very affordable, and with its features, you are sure to get your money’s worth.