Statistics released by the Plant and Agricultural National Intelligence Unit (PANIU), run by the Metropolitan Police, highlighted the organised nature of the crimes.
As previously reported by Farmers Guardian, agricultural machinery is big business for criminal gangs, who use UK ports to ship stolen plant overseas.
“Plant thieves are usually highly organised and employ a broad range of tactics to steal valuable items of machinery, many of which are destined for export via any one of the major ports in the UK,” said Andy Barrs, head of police liaison at stolen vehicle recovery specialists Tracker.
“Rapid building expansion in the Far East, Africa and Eastern Europe has created unprecedented demand for this machinery, which frequently ends up in containers on its way to ports such as Tilbury and Southampton.”
Mr Barrs sad criminals often stole machinery which could be easily tampered with, manipulating the original manufacturer’s identification numbers or marks so the stolen property was less likely to be traced back to its rightful owner.
Plant manufacturers have also previously employed a ‘one key fits all’ approach and although significant improvements have been made, this in turn has fuelled the theft of older plant machinery, again due to the sheer demand created by overseas markets.
Farmers have been advised to take steps to protect their machinery, by, for example, using secure marking techniques. Farmers should also make sure their sites are as secure as possible.