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Preventing GPS Theft

Boost security to protect GPS kits during harvest

Criminal gangs could take advantage of the busy harvest period to steal expensive Global Positioning Systems (GPS) from tractors and combines.

In recent years, GPS systems have been one of the most frequently-stolen items from farms because of their high value and portability. We saw the national cost of claims for GPS theft almost double in 2020 to £2.9m.

Over the past 18 months, a nationwide operation carried out by the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) with financial support from NFU Mutual has successfully cut the number of GPS thefts over the past year.  

However, there is a concern that criminals could be planning to use the busy harvest period to get on to farms unseen to steal GPS equipment.

In recent weeks thefts have been taking place in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire.

In a bid to prevent theft and protect farmers from thieves we've produced a video alongside NaVCIS about GPS security.

Bob Henderson, Agricultural Engineering Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “We know that criminals are still trying to steal GPS kits and will take advantage of the coming harvest period when farmers are working long hours to get onto farms unseen and machinery is away from the farmstead.

“GPS is a vital tool on modern farms and thefts cause huge disruption as it can take days to source new equipment.

“With global food supplies under pressure, holding up harvest is the last thing farmers need.

“We are urging farmers to remove systems when they’re not in use and keep them securely.”

DC Chris Piggott, agricultural vehicle crime co-ordinator at (NaVCIS), said: “GPS theft is an international crime, with countries across the globe experiencing thefts and attempts to sell stolen equipment back into the farming sector. There are also homegrown-criminals stealing GPS systems as people turn to criminal activity to make a quick buck.”

“These criminals are well-organised and know what they are looking for - so it’s essential to remove GPS kit from tractors and combines when they’re not in use and store them securely.

“It’s also well worth using indelible ink to mark GPS cases and domes with your farm name and post code to make it less attractive to thieves  - and to help police return recovered kit to its rightful owner.

“Many systems now have PIN security – and activating it makes it much harder for thieves to sell systems on.

“Some stolen GPS kits are offered for sale in the UK.  One of the best things farmers can do to reduce this crime is to carefully check the provenance of any second-hand equipment offered for sale - including checking if it’s legitimate with the manufacturer.”

Our Harvest GPS security checklist:

    • Activate PIN security on GPS kit with your own unique number if available
    • If your system is not pin enabled, mark with your postcode to deter thieves and trace your property back to you
    • Keep tractors and combines with GPS fitted stored out of sight when possible
    • Remove GPS kit when possible from tractors and other machinery and store it securely when not in use
    • Record serial numbers and photograph your kit
    • Check serial numbers of second-hand kit offered for sale
    • Report sightings of suspicious activity in fields and farmyards to police