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10 ways to help prevent tractor theft

Tractor theft has always been a big issue in agriculture. However, they are becoming ever more tempting targets for organised thieves, who steal them to order. Their parts are then sold on or the entire vehicle is quickly shipped off, which makes them difficult to trace. 

This is being driven by rising prices and a shortage of parts in the industry. As a result, satellite systems and even windscreens are becoming popular prizes for thieves.

The rise in theft is having significant repercussions for farmers. Sluggish supply chains mean that whole vehicles or their parts are taking longer to replace. This can hold back essential farm work and cause further financial distress.

Unfortunately, making a big claim for an expensive piece of equipment also means that farmers are seeing their premiums rise. This can become a serious problem if a farmer experiences multiple thefts in a short period of time. For instance, one of our clients had their tractor’s electrical management system stolen twice in just 6 months.

Increasing deterrents and protecting tractors from thieves is the best way of ensuring a vehicle is not lost. However, keeping tractors out of the hands of organised criminals or even opportunists is not straightforward. 

Why are tractors easy to steal?

A big issue with many types of agricultural vehicles is the use of a universal key. This means that one key can open all the vehicles in that range. A simple solution would be to encourage manufacturers to stop this practice, but many are reluctant to do so because of the benefits of it. For instance, a universal key means that any farm worker can drive a vehicle without having to swap keys with someone else, and if a key is lost then you can simply use another one.

Another difficulty is that it is not always practical to bring tractors back to a secure location at the end of the day. Large farms sprawl over thousands of acres, so it may be easier for you to leave a tractor in position for the next day rather than waste time driving it to and from far away fields.

Finally, immobilising a large vehicle like a tractor is very difficult. This makes it pretty straightforward for a thief to drive one away.

How can you protect a tractor from thieves?

If you want to make it more difficult for thieves to steal your valuable tractor, you can consider implementing the following:

1. Lock the cab when unattended

This may sound obvious, but we still get cases of farmers leaving their tractors unlocked. It is also not uncommon to hear that farmers have left their tractors running while busy working elsewhere. This presents an easy opening for any opportunist thieves.

2. Keep it in a locked building

Where possible, keep your tractor in a secure, locked building. It is also a good idea to park it behind something that is less valuable, as this will make it more time consuming for the thieves to move your tractor.

3. Add security lighting and cameras

Cameras and lights will not deter the most determined thieves, but they may alert you to a theft taking place. Some sophisticated systems will send an alert to your phone when they are triggered, which may help you to foil an attempt.

4. Add wheel clamps and steering wheel locks

Physical barriers will slow down thieves and they can be particularly good deterrents if a thief is an opportunist and unlikely to have the tools necessary to remove these locks.

5. Wire in a kill switch

A kill switch in your tractor’s circuitry will also slow down a thief as they will have to re-wire around it. You can ask a mechanic to do this for you.

6. Add alarms

An alarm probably won’t stop a thief, but it can be useful for alerting you to what is taking place. There are a wide range of alarms available on the market, some of which can send an alert to your phone. Others allow you to set a perimeter around the vehicle, which when crossed will trigger the alarm.

7. Secure your gates

Always securely lock field gates and the gates onto your yard. The more barriers you can place in front of the thief, the longer it will take them to steal your vehicle.

8. Take photos of equipment and their serial numbers

Keep a record of all of your equipment by taking photos and writing down their serial numbers. This can be helpful for your insurance claims and police reports. It’s also a good idea to mark your equipment with your farm’s name and address. This will make it harder for thieves to sell them on.

9. Use an electronic tracker

Trackers will not stop a theft from taking place, but they can help the police to find your vehicle if it is stolen. 

10. Keep an eye on your surroundings

Be aware of people visiting your yard unexpectedly or vehicles loitering near your fields. It is best to be alert and to report any suspicious activity to your local police force, just in case.

Talk to us about Farm Insurance

If you’d like to chat to us about your Farm Insurance, including your tractor cover, give us a call on 01953 850459 today.

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