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4th Jul, 2022

Warwickshire-based insurer warns farmers of GPS theft crime wave

WARWICKSHIRE-based insurer NFU Mutual is warning farmers over a surge in thefts of expensive tractor GPS systems.

The company, whose HQ is based in Tiddington, has joined forces with police and agricultural machinery manufacturers to tackle a surge in thefts of GPS guidance kits.

Criminals are targeting the expensive kits extensively used to guide farm machinery. Many of the stolen systems are John Deere StarFire receivers and cab display units – but others are increasingly being stolen.

In the UK, thefts have spread from East Anglia, where they first became commonplace, and police and insurers are now dealing with thefts all across the UK. In recent weeks, police are being alerted to multiple GPS thefts from farms and machinery dealers almost every day.

To help stamp out the crime wave, farmers are being urged to rigorously check any GPS kit offered for sale outside dealer networks has not been stolen.

NFU spokesman Bob Henderson said: “Having tractor GPS kit stolen during harvest is hugely disruptive. Not only do replacement units – which can cost £8,000 and more – have to be sourced, fitted and programmed, but modern farms can’t work effectively during the vital harvesting period without them.

“As the main insurer of the UK’s farmers we are working with police and tractor manufacturers to tackle this worrying new crime trend.”

To help the checking process, John Deere has a system enabling farmers to call their local dealership to check the serial number of its StarFire GPS system. The company’s database includes a marker for stolen equipment – but stresses not all thefts are reported to it, and that the system cannot provide proof that equipment offered for sale online is legitimate.

To make it more difficult for criminals to sell-on stolen systems, John Deere included a pin security feature in its StarFire 6000 series.

Superintendent Andy Huddleston said: “Making careful checks on the provenance of any GPS kit offered for sale outside the dealer network can stop criminals making money from these crimes and halt the surge.

“The service introduced by John Deere dealers makes these checks easier by enabling farmers to quickly check if a StarFire serial number is on their database of stolen systems.”

He also urged farmers to be very wary of buying GPS kits which have had serial number stickers removed.

To help prevent thefts, NFU Mutual is urging farmers to activate the security pin on their GPS kit, keep them out of sight or remove them when not in use and to check serial numbers on second-hand kits for sale.

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