The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is seeking feedback from its stakeholders on agricultural machinery and equipment theft.

The Home Office opened a Call for Evidence on the Equipment Theft (Prevention) Bill to include a consultation of extending the bill’s remit to other large agricultural equipment and power tools.

The union said it has been working with Greg Smith MP on the bill, aimed at giving the Home Secretary new powers to make regulations that deter the theft and resale of quads and ATVs (all-terrain vehicles).

The NFU said it will respond the the Call for Evidence with some of the technical detail that its advisors researched to help with the drafting of the bill.

It said it is particularly interested in “more powers to combat the surge in the theft of removable GPS systems”, and will support a requirement for these units to be “forensically marked to discourage resale and assist police investigations”.

Stakeholders can send their feedback directly to the UK government’s Equipment Theft (Prevention) Bill: Call for Evidence by July 13, 2023.

Theft prevention

The NFU said its expert team put together advice on how to prevent against thieves targeting different types of machinery, as well as steps to take when an incidence of theft occurs.

Steps that can be taken to prevent machinery theft happening on your land:

  • Where possible, vehicles should be housed in a lockable garage or building, ideally with security lighting installed to the perimeter;
  • Vehicles should always be locked when not in use, with the keys kept hidden and locked away in a secure location;
  • Keep recordings or photographs of serial numbers and vehicles as these can be crucial in recovery, should the worst happen.

The NFU’s team also outlined steps that can be taken to prevent the theft of quads and ATVs.

The team urged farmers to invest in a bespoke quad security device, like Quadvice or a quality padlock and chain.

Other steps include securing the vehicle to a fixed point of the ground or “something that takes time remove”, as it will act as a deterrent.

Farmers are advised to never leave their keys in the ignition, no matter how long the vehicle will be left unattended.

The final step for quads and ATVs is to keep gates to yards closed as “open gates can be an open invitation to thieves”.

Steps you can take to prevent theft of tractors:

  • Mark machinery with DNA marking devices and SmartWater tools;
  • Sign up to CESAR, an agricultural equipment registration scheme, which increases the chance of recovering stolen goods by helping police identify stolen machinery;
  • Have the Vehicle Identification Number etched on windows. This makes the vehicle more detectable and less appealing to thieves because they have to grind out the numbers;
  • Install immobilisers, chip keys and trackers as these are a simple way to deter criminals or track vehicles and can be fitted easily by an experienced agricultural engineer.