'Anything on wheels' at risk from criminals, police warn
THE countryside was facing targeted thefts by organised crime gangs, farmers were warned at a Lancashire Police conference on Thursday (March 22).
They were told crime prevention had to be a partnership and the police needed the farming community to work with them.
DC Ian Elliott, who deals with agricultural machinery theft in the Plant and Agricultural National Intelligence Unit (PANIU), said other industries had locked gates and possibly a security barrier, but farms amounted to factories without locked gates.
He said: “A thief will exploit the fact he can drive through the farmyard. Thieving is his day job and he is looking for anything which is available.
“Criminals are looking for your stuff and if you give them access they will take it.
“The police are doing something about this, but we need the farming community to engage with us.”
He said criminals targeted farms because there was a ‘massive return’ for little risk; there was supply and demand for developing countries; metal and rubber were at inflated prices; there was generally ease of theft and poor security. “The one thing a thief doesn’t want is locked gates.
“We are seeing real targeted thefts by well organised criminals. A stolen tractor is probably in Dover by the time you have woken up.”
He said it was not just new tractors which were being stolen as old ones were worth just as much to criminals because often the country they were being sent to did not have the capability for repairing and servicing newer ones.
DC Chris Ruff from the police national vehicle crime investigation service said landowners are workers were concerned about levels of theft in the countryside and the rising cost of machinery meant a buoyant second-hand market.
“Anything on wheels is at risk and anything else, which is not fastened down or locked away, will be stolen as well.”