Texting used in fight against rural crime

TEXTING and social media should be used in the fight against rural crime, farmers and members of rural organisations were told at a national seminar.

With the theme, “Closing the Gate on Criminality,” the event brought together senior police officers as well as manufacturers.

“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,” said Dave Cording, of Crimestoppers, which hosted the event with ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers.

“Organised criminals can get tractors and other valuable equipment out of the country within 24 hours.”

Tractor makers 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,” said 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.”

Seminar speaker DC Ian Elliott, of PANIU, the Plant and Agricultural National Intelligence Unit, highlighted the value of the system to police offers.

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“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 said. “In the construction plant sector, where the system has been used for longer, it has improved recovery rates.”

While immobilisers and tracking systems can 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.

And Mr Cording said Crimestoppers could also help. “We understand that rural communities are close-knit and trust is an important part of rural life,” he said.

About 23 people are arrested and charged every day as a result of information given to Crimestoppers.

“In situations where people are aware of those committing crimes – perhaps a neighbour or work colleague – they can call the 0800 555111 Crimestoppers number anonymously or visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org.”