Gangs targeting Scottish farms for rich pickings

Farmers are being warned to pin it or pen it’ when it comes to expensive tractor GPS systems as the countryside continues to be targeted by tech-savvy criminal gangs.

Saturday, 12th September 2020, 7:30 am
Eye in the sky...criminal gangs are using drones to target specific areas so farmers are being warned to ‘pin it or pen it’ to safeguard their tractor GPS systems.

Police Scotland and leading rural insurer NFU Mutual are urging farmers to make the most of pin-enabled security if it’s available on their GPS kit or to get back to basics and indelibly daub postcodes onto their systems to deter criminal gangs who are stealing to order.

DC Allan McKean, from Police Scotland’s National Rural Crime Team, said: “We would advise where possible to secure the vehicles and systems in lockable sheds, mark them up to make them distinctive and ensure you have their relevant serial numbers.

“There have been a number of thefts over the last month.

“It is important people in rural communities report all suspicious activity to Police Scotland, which can then be shared and help us build the intelligence picture around these criminals.”

Farmers are being advised to check where systems have come from if they are buying from outside a dealership.

Rebecca Davidson, NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist, said: “The thieves clearly know what they are looking for and we are getting reports of determined criminal gangs using drones to scope out farms or carefully planning routes around CCTV surveillance to avoid being caught.

“The feeling of being watched and targeted is adding to feelings of anxiety for those living in isolated areas.”

DC Chris Piggott of the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) added: “Our message is simple – pin it or pen it. If you have pin enabled technology to protect your GPS system, make sure it’s up and running and if not, daub your postcode onto kit using indelible ink.

“It might not look pretty but it’s a big deterrent to thieves who are stealing systems to sell on.”