Protection alert for farmers as GPS thefts increase across Devon and Cornwall

This latest spate of thefts is unusual in this part of the South West, according to Devon & Cornwall Police.

“Previously, Devon and Cornwall had seen very few thefts of this type, but during September and October, this has increased to 15 individual GPS units reported as stolen,” said A/PS Martin Beck, Rural Affairs Officer with Devon & Cornwall Police. “Where the time can be pinpointed, these offences have typically been committed during the hours of darkness.”

Portable GPS kits are particularly vulnerable to theft because they are easily removed from tractors and highly valuable. Some are sold on in the UK, but many end up in the hands of organised crime gangs selling stolen goods abroad.

This is a timely reminder for all farmers to check their GPS devices are covered, says Naomi Clements, Claims Leader at Cornish Mutual:

“The GPS system will normally consist of a receiver and display screen, and the appropriate insurance policy to provide cover will depend on the nature of the system.

“For example, a portable device used on multiple vehicles will be considered differently to an integrated system supplied with the vehicle or purchased for a specific vehicle. If in doubt, please contact us to check you are correctly covered.”

Securing farms and marking kit advised to help prevent thefts

To reduce the risk of theft, Devon & Cornwall Police recommends farmers review the security of their GPS devices and consider taking the following steps:

  • Always lock your tractor cab when you’ve finished for the day and if possible, keep it in a locked building or at least out of sight. Thieves often target farms where isolated vehicles are visible
  • Consider installing deterrents, such as active CCTV, motion-triggered lights or alarms
  • Remove portable GPS devices from your vehicles after use and secure them separately in a locked building. Alternatively, use security mounting plates to make devices harder to remove
  • If your device has PIN security, check it’s been activated and mark the device as PIN enabled
  • Mark the device with your contact details, e.g. etched into the casing
  • Forensic marking kits apply a unique identifier which can be matched by the police if items are recovered, proving you are the equipment’s owner
  • If you can’t mark your device, record its make, model and serial number and take a photo of it – again, this can help the police return recovered equipment
  • Let employees know the security arrangements expected of them while working on the farm
  • Join a local, free Farm Watch scheme to receive local rural crime alerts and crime reduction assistance:
  • Devon & Cornwall Farm Watch
  • Avon & Somerset Farm Watch
  • Dorset Alert

If you are the victim of theft or see anything suspicious on your farm, call 101.

To discuss your agricultural vehicle and farm insurance cover, contact your local Field Insurance Advisor or our Member Services team on 01872 277151.