Farmers have been warned to ramp up security following a spate of tractor GPS thefts, which saw kit worth thousands of pounds stolen.
The GPS kits, each worth about £10,000, have been taken from farm businesses in Devon and Wiltshire since the beginning of May.
Reports revealed that in one incident 10 receivers, 7 screens and 10 arm rest screens were taken from a farm in Trowbridge.
Rebecca Davidson, NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist said: “The theft of GPS equipment is becoming big business again for rural thieves. As well as stealing vital equipment, criminals are leaving a trail of damage as they smash glass to gain access and crudely cut wires.”
Fears are now mounting over the scale of the problem, as it is believed criminal gangs are working their way across the country after farms in the Midlands, including Staffordshire, were targeted.
Branding the crime a ‘national issue’, Ms Davidson highlighted Covid-19 had triggered a spike in high-value but smaller, portable items.
“This trend is deeply worrying for farmers who are investing in hi-tech equipment to make their farms more efficient and reduce pollution,” she added.
In an effort to crack down on the issue, Ms Davidson said farmers had been removing the GPS kit from tractors when not in use and storing them securely.
DC Chris Piggot, rural vehicle crime officer at the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NAVCIS) claimed the systems were being sold on through the black market, with many of them destined for Eastern European countries where they cannot be easily traced.
DC Piggot has urged farmers to overtly mark up GPS kits ‘indelibly’ with a single identifying colour or postcode, in order to make their resale unattractive to thieves.
He added: “We would also encourage owners of Starfire 6000 systems to enable the pin code and render them useless to criminals.”