Farmers and representatives of rural organisations joined police officers from across the country at a national seminar – Closing the Gate on Criminality – to hear about the problem of rural crime and measures being taken to tackle it.
Lincolnshire chief constable Richard Crompton with Dave Cording of Crimestoppers and the McCormick tractor that highlighted equipment theft at a national rural crime seminar.
“The seminar covered many essential topics, including the use of new technology such as texting and social media to share vital information in the fight against rural crime,” says Dave Cording of Crimestoppers, the crime-fighting charity that hosted the event with ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers.
Once confined to local ‘rogues’, rural theft is now more often committed by organised criminal gangs who have identified farms as an easy target. Tractors and other farm vehicles are easily exported and find willing buyers overseas.
“Organised criminals can get tractors and other valuable equipment out of the country within 24 hours,” says Dave Cording. “This can leave the rightful owner unable to carry on their day-to-day work.”
As the first tractor supplier to install theft deterrence and recovery technology across its product range, AgriArgo UK provided a McCormick MTX150 to highlight the issue of tractor theft and illustrate the machinery industry-backed CESAR scheme operated by Datatag.
“Since January 2010, all McCormick and Landini tractors supplied to farms and other rural businesses have been equipped with the Datatag system as standard,” points out Ray Spinks of AgriArgo UK.
“The tractors carry prominent tamper-proof identification plates that will deter some criminals from stealing these products, and there are hidden microchips, microdots and unique chemical ‘DNA’ that will identify the rightful owner,” he adds. “If a Landini or McCormick tractor is stolen, there’s a much better chance than usual of it being recovered.”
Seminar speaker Detective Constable Ian Elliott of PANIU, the Plant & Agricultural National Intelligence Unit, highlighted the value of the system to police offers.
“It gives them 24/7 access to the owner database, makes it easier to identify machines and provides correct data standards for theft reporting,” he points out. “In the construction plant sector, where the system has been used for longer, it has improved recovery rates.”
While immobilisers and tracking systems can also be used to safeguard tractors, items such as workshop tools, oil, diesel, batteries, pesticides and livestock present a greater challenge because they are more difficult to secure and identify.
Vigilance, community schemes such as Farm Watch and technology like high-quality CCTV with number plate recognition to monitor vehicle movements can help. But Dave Cording of Crimestoppers also urges people who know of those committing crimes in rural communities to come forward.
“We understand that rural communities are close-knit and trust is an important part of rural life,” he says. “In situations where people are aware of those committing crimes – perhaps a neighbour or work colleague – they can use the anonymous 0800 555 111 Crimestoppers phone number or the secure online form on our website (www.crimestoppers-uk.org) to put a stop to it.”
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