Crime prevention work vital as Essex farm machinery thefts continue to reduce
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Our rural engagement officers regularly speak to farmers, landowners and agricultural workers about crime prevention.
This aspect of their work is vitally important in a county which is 72% rural and contains almost 1,500 farms.
Our Rural Engagement Team was launched in October 2018, specifically to engage with our rural communities. That year, the force received 922 reports of stolen agricultural equipment and machinery. By 2022, that figure had dropped by 70% - to 274. The yearly figure has remained relatively stable since 2020 when we received 347 reports.
Acting Chief Inspector Terry Jacobs says:
“The theft of agricultural equipment and machinery is not just an inconvenience until the insurance is sorted out. “It can cost thousands of pounds to replace and also cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost revenue if a farmer is unable to harvest their crops before they can replace it.”
It’s not just tractors and combine harvesters which are valuable to thieves, who may be part of an organised crime group.
Ride-on lawnmowers, quad bikes and agricultural global positioning systems (GPS) are equally, if not more, attractive.
“Rural engagement officers advise owners of expensive equipment and machinery to secure their property using a combination of tactics, including fitting trackers, alarms and immobilisers or installing CCTV. “Even the simple act of removing keys and keeping them secure and out of sight can hinder potential thieves greatly. “And don’t forget to mark your property with your postcode, including attachments such as drills, buckets and ploughs, which can also be costly to replace.” Acting Chief Inspector Terry Jacobs
Last November, a man who admitted conspiring to steal £380,000 of agricultural global positioning systems, satellite receivers, computer screens and control boxes, was jailed for three years and 10 months and a deprivation order was made on his car. His co-conspirator had earlier been jailed for three years.
The pair had targeted 13 farms and estates across Essex between 28 September and 27 October 2021 but were brought to justice following a complex investigation by rural engagement officer PC Samantha Wright.
As well as investigating reports of stolen agricultural machinery, the team also tackle vehicle thefts - recovering stolen vehicles to reunite with their owners - and help to keep our rural roads safe by seizing uninsured vehicle
During 2022, they recovered or seized 180 vehicles. The majority of vehicles seized – 95 – were cars and vans found to be uninsured or which were driven by people with an incorrect driving licence er even without a licence at all. Vehicles are seized under section 165 of the Road Traffic Act.
And 50 had been stolen but subsequently tracked down and recovered following an investigation.
Our Rural Engagement Team
Our rural engagement officers provide specialist help and advice to tackle wildlife crimes, such as hare coursing, as well as heritage crimes affecting historic sites and buildings, thefts of agricultural machinery, large-scale organised fly-tipping and unauthorised encampments.
And they also liaise with partner agencies to take enforcement action against those who breach legislation and to tackle specific rural issues through proactive operations.
Anyone who experiences or who has information about crime or anti-social behaviour, should ring 999 if it’s an emergency or a crime in progress.
Otherwise you can report it online where you can also provide information directly to an online Live Chat operator on weekdays (excluding bank holidays) between 10am and 9pm. Alternatively, you can ring 101.
You can also contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, online or by calling 0800 555 111.
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