Farm Thefts Tractor Security

Tractor thefts are rising in the Eastern region. A BBC East reporter talks to a spokesman for plant retailers Ben Burgess in Newmarket about how he thinks the problem will be addressed. Broadcast at 08:20 on Thursday 2nd September in the Peterborough Breakfast Show hosted by Paul Stainton on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

PS: Farm machinery costing thousands of pounds in Cambridgeshire is being targeted by thieves. The number of tractors stolen in the county has gone up, and some fear lack of security makes the vehicles an easy target. Earlier we heard from a farmer in Thorney who had two tractors taken within two months. Our reporter Govinder Gill went to speak to a farm machinery manufacturer to find out what they’re doing to tackle the problem. (TAPE)
BB: The tractor we’re standing in front of at the present moment is a John Deere 9420T. It’s one of our largest tractors (FADE)
GG: Ben Turner works for Ben Burgess a retailer in Newmarket selling John Deere farm machinery.
BB: We’re lucky enough to be in what we call the bread basket of England. There’s a lot of farm machinery working. The equipment we sell on to the farmers is very expensive, and has a very high value. The average price of a tractor is sixty to seventy thousand pounds, and security of those machines has become an issue.
GG: I’ve spoken to a lot of farmers, and one big frustration is the key issue, that one key seems to fit all. So what’s been done to address that?
BB: Ah yes. It does seem surprising doesn’t it that a machine of that value only has one key and it can fit any John Deere tractor. But it is being changed. The changes are afoot.
GG: If I went into a John Deere shop today, I could get a key for a tractor. Is that true?
BB: Yes it is true.
GG: So you wouldn’t ask for any identification, or anything.
BB: No we wouldn’t. No, I’m afraid.
GG: (ASIDE) The company admits current security measures aren’t great, but they’re working on introducing individual keys for each tractor, among other things.
BB: So all the new John Deere tractors will have data tagging. This will make it so much easier for the police to actually identify stolen equipment. they are totally behind it. There are microdots that are spread all over the tractor in its paintwork when it’s made. So this can be traced by the police with special guns. We ourselves are putting immobilisers to the tractors. So again you have to put a code in before the tractor will drive.
GG: So say is a farmer came to buy a piece of machinery today. Do you give them the options for the security measures and then it’s up to them?
BB: Most certainly. They’re all offered effectively now. In some cases we’re throwing it in as part of the deal. Quite a number of farmers are taking the option to add satellite tracking. They’ve got constant surveillance, so they know where their tractor is at any time.
GG: I think lots of people would be surprised to hear the value of them. they are really expensive.
BB: Well in some cases more than a house. And yes, it’s surprising how values have crept up. Our residual values, our second-hand machines, hold their price tremendously well. Because you have to remember that a tractor’s working life could be twenty five years. So even if a tractor’s five years old it holds a very good residual value.
GG: Because there are rumours that a lot of these tractors are being taken into places like Eastern Europe, and Iraq and Kurdistan. Do you think that’s why we’re being targeted here in places like Cambridgeshire?
BB: East Anglia, Cambridgeshire, has always had very good quality second hand tractors. They’re of the highest specification, and John Deeres are very common in this area as well, and they’re highly sought after. Yes we are being targeted. And we’re near to the ports.
GG: (ASIDE) As manufacturers continue their work to tighten up security, they’re hoping this will make it harder for the criminals to get their hands on expensive farm machinery. (LIVE)
PS: Govinda Gill reporting there.