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A “layered approach” that exploits the weaknesses of thieves can help prevent tractor and quad bike theft on farms, say experts.

Rural insurer NFU Mutual said tractor theft claims costs rose more than 13% in the first nine months of 2015 in East Anglia, the Midlands and the South East.

Theft of quads also remains high, with claims rising in some regions and falling in others.

See also: Tractor thefts rise sharply in central and eastern regions

NFU Mutual will stage a machine security exhibit at the Lamma show in Peterborough, where it will present top tips to tackle farm machinery theft.

Its agricultural vehicle security specialist, Clive Harris, will be on hand to talk to farmers at the show on Wednesday and Thursday (20 and 21 January).

Mr Harris will explain to farmers rural crime trends in their areas and how they can put in place effective security measures to minimise the risk of vehicle and machinery theft.

“Thieves don’t go away. If you improve security in one area they will step back, and seek a way to bypass your security measures – or find something else they can steal from farms and sell on,” said Mr Harris.

“We find a layered approach to security, which involves choosing as many measures as possible from a list of five key options, including Cesar security marking and installing an immobiliser, can help reduce thefts.

“A lot of the time farmers tell us tractor security is too costly, but there are cheaper, effective options coming to the market all the time. It’s a case of selecting what is suitable for your machinery and maximising the value for money.”

Tractor theft cost NFU Mutual £10m in 2010 in claims for farm machinery losses alone, which does not take into account loss of business and higher insurance premium charges.

NFU Mutual has provided more than £600,000 to fund police specialist units to co-ordinate activity tackling agricultural vehicle crime. This investment, combined with premium discounts for farmers fitting approved security devices to tractors, has helped reduce tractor theft by more than one-third from to £5.4m in 2014.

But Mr Harris warned that advances in technology meant thieves were stealing more “older” tractors, that can be anything from three to four years old. Older and vintage vehicles are also at risk and are exported to third world markets such as Africa.

Protect vehicles by registering them with CESAR

To combat theft and aid recovery, the Construction and Agricultural Machinery Security and Registration Scheme (CESAR), uses state-of-the-art Datatag ID technology to increase security of tractors, telehandlers and other machinery vulnerable to theft.

For a one-off cost from £149+ VAT, the scheme provides visible and covert markings on farm machinery linked to a secure 24/7 registration database, which is there for life. If your vehicle is stolen and is tagged, the rightful owner can be easily identified.

The scheme can also result in a reduction in insurance premiums offered by many mainstream insurance companies.

Have the vehicle identification number (VIN) etched on vehicle windows

Vehicle identification number etching is an effective countertheft measure which involves etching a vehicle’s VIN onto windows.

“If you get a VIN number etched on glass windows, it makes the vehicle more detectable and less appealing to thieves because they have to grind out the numbers,” said Mr Harris.

Autoglass carry out etching free of charge for NFU Mutual tractor insurance policyholders. They can also etch non-agricultural vehicles such as cars and 4x4s provided the VRN number match the NFU Mutual insurance certificate and vehicle registration certificate (V5C)

For more details and to arrange an appointment email

Fit good-quality immobiliser devices (preferably Thatcham accredited)

Fitting immobiliser devices such as a Thatcham-approved immobiliser (P2) are expensive options, but they can help cut insurance premiums because they prevent machinery from being stolen in the first place.

For example, NFU Mutual provides a security discount of 7.5% for vehicles fitted with an approved Thatcham immobiliser.

Mr Harris said: “Thatcham-approved immobilisers are a good investment and give you peace of mind.

“If you fit a P3 mechanical immobiliser device on your tractor, if it is targeted, it will only go round in circles.

“We have had incidents where policyholders have fitted it and their tractor went round making crop circles after thieves tried to steal it.”

The list of Thatcham-approved immobilisers and tracking devices is available from the Thatcham website

Consider Telematics/tracking technology to give the location of vehicles 24/7

Tracking devices should be considered for all and especially for expensive tractors, Mr Harris said.

A number of Thatcham P5-approved tracking devices are available, which offer a 15% discount on NFU Mutual premiums.

“Tracking devices are quite innovative and some are not as expensive as others,” added Mr Harris.

Other theft prevention tips include:

  • Remove keys and lock vehicles when unattended

  • Install security lights in farmyards and lock yard gates

  • Secure quads using heavy-duty security chains or locking devices

  • Ensure all machinery is locked out of sight in buildings overnight

Date Created: 18/01/2016

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