It’s an unfortunate fact that plant machinery theft is on the rise across the whole of the UK. Reported cases are becoming increasingly common and it’s been
reported that, in Cambridgeshire alone, these thefts are costing the farming industry millions of pounds every year.
Good quality plant machinery is an expensive investment and it is this that attracts potential thieves. Many have an easy way to transport machinery such as
tractors, diggers and dumpers out of the country, selling them later across the globe.
So what steps can be taken by owners of plant machinery, tools and other equipment to help prevent this theft? Unfortunately, there is no definitive solution to
the issue and all plant machinery will continue to be at risk from theft for the foreseeable future. However, whilst you cannot completely guarantee to secure yourself
and your equipment from this crime taking place, you can take steps to try and prevent it from occurring. And even in some cases, if plant machinery theft does happen
to you, these tips may help you to identify the perpetrators, bring them to justice and possibly recover your stolen equipment.
Plant Equipment Theft – What Exactly Thieves Can Steal
Firstly, it’s important to identify exactly what theft can take place.
Obviously there is the stealing of tractors, diggers and other large plant machines themselves. Being an expensive piece of equipment, thieves are constantly on
the look-out for a shiny new digger that they can sell on elsewhere.
As parts are also well sought after by thieves, you may hear of reports where a tyre or a GPS kit has been stolen.
Another common theft involving plant machinery is when a person has siphoned the fuel tank of a machine and stolen the contents within. In these instances, it’s
not always clear at first that a crime has taken place and owners don’t always notice there is an issue until after they try to start the engine.
Smaller tools and batteries must not be forgotten either as these have been a traditional target for thieves for many years now.
What You Can Do to Try and Prevent Plant Equipment Theft
So we’ve identified which items of your equipment are at risk, we’re now going to take a look at what you can do to help protect them.
Firstly, and it may seem like an obvious point but it’s vital nonetheless, when your equipment is not in use, be sure to lock it all up in a secure location. Don’t
make your equipment an easy target for a thief by allowing them to just walk up and easily drive it away. Fit heavy-duty locks on your doors and windows and
install motion sensor lights to draw attention to any movement taking place in the dark of night.
Threading chain through the wheels and then locking it back on itself would make your equipment much harder to steal. However, you must be sure to use a chain
that is both heavy and durable; this will prevent it from being removed with every day bolt cutters.
Conduct regular checks of all your equipment, noting serial/model numbers, writing descriptions of the equipment’s condition (noting any dents or scratches). These
checks will help you to quickly and easily identify if your equipment is present and accounted for, but they will also be useful if police ever become involved as you can
immediately provide them with information of unique characteristics that will help to differentiate your property from other equipment.
If you are into DIY and occasionally find yourself creating new gadgets, you could try to produce a device tailored to your specific piece of equipment that will lock the
brakes or steering to one side. Another DIY suggestion would be to adapt a removable steering wheel (usually used on cars) so that it could be used on your plant machinery.
For on-site machinery
Building sites are so busy and hectic that it can be easy to forget to take those necessary steps to protect yourself from theft. Rather than leaving the machinery
on site, unattended, transport it to a secure location.
If this isn’t possible however, a simple measure such as double checking all perimeter fencing and gates are locked before leaving a site could make the world of
The use of Heras fencing is becoming increasingly popular in building sites. They are
simple to use and erect; all that’s required is to surround your machinery with the panels
and then secure them by chaining and locking them together. The use of concrete footing
blocks is also popular, adding extra protection by reinforcing the fence’s security system.
For farm owners
Installing security ramps around your farm may be a nuisance for you on a daily basis, but
in the long run, they could be beneficial in preventing thieves from simply driving away with
Be sure to speak with your neighbours regularly and join your local Countryside Watch; the more relationships develop, the more likely people are to report any suspicious
sightings. It also helps to build on the sense of community as everyone will be looking out for one another and, with the developments in modern technology and social media
sites such as Twitter, reporting live information to one another (and, more importantly, to the police) has never been easier.
Our final suggestion to help prevent your agricultural plant equipment from theft is an expensive investment but could help you sleep easier at night. Installing CCTV
around your farm and ensuring it covers the areas where your equipment is stored could help deter thieves.
The fact that you are actively looking to protect your property and investing in security measures is going to stop you from being such an easy target for thieves. Just try for
a minute to put yourself in the shoes of a potential thief. You have already conducted late night searches of two farms and identified that one farm has obviously taken many
steps to secure their property; maybe you even glimpse a CCTV camera on the side of the nearest barn. Which farm are you more likely to try and steal from; the one that simply
stores their equipment in a barn at night, or the one that has locked their equipment in a highly secure barn, chained the tyres, used lockable fuel caps and has installed security
cameras (which may even be able to identify you to the police and ensure that you are caught)?
Other methods of protection
There are so many other ways to take precautionary steps; a few more are listed below:
- Prevent thieves from siphoning your machine’s tank by using lockable fuel caps
- Do not leave your fuel tank full when the machine is not in use
- Always remove the keys from your plant machinery when it’s not in use
- If you can, lock the doors to your machinery
- Where you can, remove batteries, rotors and distributor caps when the machine is not in use
In conclusion, we must reiterate that none of the steps mentioned above will provide you with a sure-fire way of protecting your plant equipment and/or parts from theft;
unfortunately, unless you are prepared to pay for a 24 hour security team to guard your property, there simply is no way to protect yourself entirely. But we do hope this
information has increased your awareness of this ongoing issue and has provided you with ideas of how to be more vigilant. Remember, it is possible that thieves will be
deterred from trying to steal your property if they can see that you are actively taking steps to prevent this from happening; they are not always willing to work too hard and
your security steps may even cause them to move on in search of an easier target.