NFU Mutual said it was ‘more important than ever’ to protect agricultural vehicles with Cesar marking, immobilisers and trackers.
Thieves are using a variety of vehicles with false, doctored or cloned registration plates, often stolen from rural areas, to deceive automatic number plate recognition.
NFU Mutual said it was ‘more important than ever’ to protect agricultural vehicles with Cesar marking, immobilisers and trackers, and the key to stopping such criminals was through building up a pattern of detailed movements.
Rural insurance specialist Rebecca Davidson said: “There have been recent successes with the detection of stolen equipment overseas, including seven machines in Poland in the last fortnight, which were originally taken from across the UK.
“Quad theft is continuing to hit farmers, with high levels in the north of England – Northumbria, Cumbria, Cleveland and Durham – and we have seen spikes in stolen navigation systems nationally.”
She advised farmers to remove keys from vehicles, keep machines locked up and out of sight, and make use of the Cesar marking and registration system.
“At this time of year, police are on alert for telehandler thefts as ram aids on cash machines tend to increase in the lead up to Christmas,” Ms Davidson added.
But questions have been raised about the available police and Government powers to deal with criminals and stolen vehicles.
The Angus Rural Crime Group, an 80-strong WhatsApp group set up by farmers and rural dwellers in Angus, Scotland, is proving a success as a means of tracing crime across the country, but virtually 100 per cent of the suspicious vehicles they spot and report are unlicensed.
To make matters worse, Police Scotland has no powers to deal with these vehicles, even if they are traced and stopped.
Additionally, the DVLA website registration check does not work if the user does not know the street name they are reporting a sighting on, which can be a common problem with highly mobile rural crime.
A spokesman for the group said: “It seems that when Police Scotland was formed, the powers to deal with unlicensed vehicles was handed to the DVLA.
“In a recent poaching case we reported, the offenders and their dogs were caught by the Police. They were however allowed to drive away in an unlicensed van.
“It is a great tool to help beat the bad guys but it needs to be backed by better powers.”