Guide to: Security Systems for Tractors, other Farm Machinery & Construction Plant

With new tractors valued at £70,000 or more, it's surprising that many are fitted with less security than the typical family saloon car. Even more staggering that a standard ignition key will often fit many different vehicles - it's the kind of indifference to basic security measures the car makers were taken to task over more than 20 years ago.

As a result, farm equipment makes a relatively easy target for thieves and it is very lucrative - most of the larger machinery, such as tractors, is shipped out of the country to Eastern Europe or further afield, making them near impossible to trace. We're talking several hundred tractors a year, stolen often by organised gangs.

Tractors may be the highest profile piece of equipment - stealing a combine harvester being rather less practical for most thieves - but there are many other pieces of farm machinery that have value and need protecting. Added all together, it's a crime wave topping £3 million a year in the UK alone (as at 2011).

Construction plant faces a similar targeting from thieves, not only for shipping out of the country but for use in raids on bank buildings, post offices and other premises. There is huge need for better immobilisation of this equipment, especially when parked on-site where it is likely to be outside a fully secured enclosure.

In the automotive sector, tracking systems have become a heavily recommended security measure, especially on high value vehicles. It's logical that we are faced with a similar situation here, and while you might not be persuaded to invest in such a system to cover an open trailer, investments of several tens of thousands of pounds certainly justify it.

The police have had a very good success rate when it comes to recovering stolen vehicles, and with the better tracking systems able to be monitored across Europe, it's not a case of the thief getting over to France, Spain or Holland and disappearing.

There are a variety of tracking systems offered. The tracker itself - either a GPS-based satellite tracking system or one that emits a radio signal that can be picked up by a receiver - is only one part of the solution. Monitoring is the other key element.

If the tracker self arms and actively alerts, so that theft of the equipment is monitored immediately as it happens, rather than relying on the owner informing the authorities or monitoring centre only when he discovers the theft himself, that could potentially be the difference between a tractor being recovered by UK police or requiring a more complicated capture. Also, given sufficient time, the tracking device is likely to be discovered by the gang, as many are experienced, so time is of the essence.

Needless to say, professional fitting of the tracking device is highly recommended... no, it's essential. An 'easy fit' often means it will be an 'easy find', and a tracking device easily discovered and parted from its host is useless.

For more information on Tracking Systems, read our page on general vehicle tracking and police and 'Thatcham' (MIRRC) recommendations.