Failure to check vehicle history could hit farmers in the pocket

Buying used agricultural vehicles and machinery is a cost effective solution for many farmers, but if it turns out to be stolen it could leave you out of pocket and without vital equipment.

Ensuring a thorough check of a vehicle’s history is carried out is just as important as assessing its condition – nobody wants to uncover any nasty little surprises after the sale.

Although it can be easy to think ‘it won’t happen to me’ it’s worth remembering that the problem is widespread. 

NFU Mutual’s latest rural crime claims data reveals that the cost of farm theft claims doubled in March 2017 compared with the same month in 2016 and 2015.

Tim Price, NFU Mutual Rural Affairs specialist, said thefts of high spec tractors contributed to the spike, adding: “Quad and ATV thefts continue to make up the largest number of agricultural vehicle claims we deal with.”

When a deal is too good to be true...

Clive Harris, NFU Mutual’s agricultural vehicle specialist, said: “The vast majority of sales involving agricultural machinery and vehicles will be legitimate but there are persistent criminals out there, which means you should remain vigilant.

“Everyone likes a good deal but if the price you are paying is way under the market value then you shouldn’t ignore those alarm bells ringing in your head. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Buying a stolen vehicle or machinery will result in it being seized by the police. This will mean the loss of the tractor or vehicle, the cash paid for it and potential arrest for handling stolen goods.”

Whether you are buying a car or a tractor, the same principles apply and a few checks should provide you with the peace of mind you need. Even if it priced correctly due diligence checks should still be made.

Simple checklist

The Vehicle Safe Trading Advisory Group offers the following pointers:

  • Check the price of the vehicle you’re looking to purchase is in-line with the market. If it is much cheaper then alarm bells should be ringing.
  • Check the seller has a valid address and telephone number. Visit them at their home or business premises. Never meet half-way, at a services or car park.
  • Give the vehicle a full inspection and test drive.
  • Always check the documentation related to the machinery or vehicle.
  • If in doubt walk away until you have carried out research and checks to be sure.

In summary, if you’re going to register your purchased asset on a registration database, this should be done provisionally before you hand over your cash. It is too late once you have made a cash purchase through a private sale.

NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey

NFU Mutual’s annual Rural Crime Report reveals rural crime cost the UK £39.2million in 2016. Although that’s down a little (4.3%) on the 2015 cost, initial figures for the first half of 2017 suggest the downward trend isn’t going to last.  

In 2016, the cost of agricultural vehicle theft remained static at £5.4m. However, there was a 11% rise in the cost of quad bike theft and a 17% rise in the cost of Land Rover Defender theft in 2016.

Read the 2017 Rural Crime Report link to report for the latest trends, figures and insights. 

Watch our video with Agricultural Vehicle Specialist Clive Harris