UK: Farm insurer counts cost of shock rise in tractor thefts

Tractors are a target for thieves

Tractors are a target for thieves - Credit:

TRACTOR thefts have risen this year and parts of East Anglia may be more at risk because of proximity to routes to Europe, rural insurers have warned.

NFU Mutual saw a significant fall in tractor theft across the country in the first 11 months of last year, before a sudden rise in agri-crime. Quad bikes have also been targeted by thieves.

Although the numbers involved regionally are too small to come to any firm conclusions, between December and February farms in the IP and CO post codes around Ipswich and Colchester suffered thefts costing around £30,000.

However, the theft of a single tractor accounted for around half that sum. In total, NFU Mutual said it saw around four or five tractor thefts and two quad bike thefts in the two post codes.

Tractor thefts peaked in 2010 before falling by 32% in the first 11 months of 2012. But in the two months to the end of January, the value of tractor claims rose by 35% at NFU Mutual, which insures 70% of UK farmers.Rural thieves are also targeting quads, telescopic loaders and utility vehicles

NFU Mutual is warning farmers to review farmyard security. There has been intense activity to improve tractor security and policing which has involved farmers, police forces, the Borders Agency and NFU Mutual.

NFU Mutual’s Simon Houltby said as there was no left or right hand drive on a tractor, stolen ones are more saleable abroad.

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“You’ll generally find it’s more prevalent depending on the ease of how quick it is to get them out of the country,” he said. There were thieves who specifically targeted rural areas, he said, but their focus changed according to the prices of different commodities.

Essex National Farmers’ Union (NFU) adviser Adam Scott urged farmers to support farm watch schemes and work with police farm liaison officers.

“From experiences in Essex over the past couple of years many of these crimes are organised not opportunistic. With good access to containerised ports the region is vulnerable to high value machinery theft,” he said.

“The NFU is also keen to ensure that the next five year Police and Crime Plans build on the successes of local crime prevention initiatives. It is also important that these plans recognise that even in a built up county like Essex there are many remote rural areas where a police presence is required to provide reassurance to rural communities.”

A meeting with Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston takes place at 6.30pm on April 22 at Essex Young Farmers Centre Chatham Green to discuss these issues. For details, phone 01787 329761.