GPS thieves hit three farms in one day
- Credit: Jon Chandler / Farmwatch
Three Norfolk farms were hit in 24 hours by thieves targeting valuable satellite guidance systems.
Police are investigating thefts from farms in Shipdham, near Dereham, South Pickenham, near Swaffham, and Methwold, near Thetford, on Sunday, August 15.
GPS screens and receivers worth several thousand pounds were taken from tractors and farm machinery.
At Methwold, nine screens and two receivers were stolen from tractors and sprayers within 20 minutes of the farm stopping its harvest operations for the night, shortly after midnight on Saturday.
Jon Chandler, a long-serving former Norfolk police officer who is now a director of rural security firm Farmwatch, said it amounted to a £50,000 loss "at a time when farmers can ill afford downtime".
"It always happens at this time of year, and it is very costly and upsetting," he said.
"They have had people invade their business and their home, but this keeps going on. It is getting to the point where they are expecting this to happen, and they have to come to terms with it.
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"There is an expectation that more needs to be done by the police and the industry to try to prevent this type of theft from happening. They [farmers] feel that not enough is being done and it is not taken seriously enough."
PC Chris Shelley, rural crime officer for Norfolk police, said: “We know these thefts targeting valuable property are worrying for farmers who invest heavily in high-tech equipment to make their farms more efficient.
“The theft of such high-tech equipment isn’t unique to Norfolk; it’s a trend we are seeing nationally linked to organised crime and we’re part of a national working group which liaises with manufactures to help prevent incidents.
“All incidents reported are fully investigated and we work closely with the farming community to share intelligence, information and advice.
“There are some steps farmers can take to help protect equipment. Clearly marking devices and ensuring PIN locks are used is also helpful in making them harder to be sold on. We also recommend that if it is safely removable, take it away.”
- Anyone with information about these crimes or of being offered GPS devices for sale should contact Norfolk Police on 101 quoting crime reference 36/59235/21 (Methwold), 36/59284/21 (Shipdham) or 36/59298/21 (South Pickenham).