Eighty tractors have been stolen from farms across Staffordshire in the past 18 months, police revealed today.
Farmers have been left counting the cost, with one tractor a week stolen. Security has been stepped up to tackle the problem, with tracking devices fitted on tractors, quad bikes and other machinery.
It is believed that crooks targeting farms across Staffordshire and the West Midlands are costing the region an estimated £9.7 million a year.
Power tools such as chainsaws, lawnmowers and also jet-washers top the list of items that are being targeted by criminals – followed by quad bikes and then tractors.
Detectives investigating the recent crimewave said none of the stolen tractors had been fitted with the tracking devices, which are part of the nationwide CESAR scheme.
CESAR uses measures such as tracers and tamper-proof registration plates to deter thieves and make it easier to trace expensive agricultural equipment.
Staffordshire-based JCB has backed the scheme, along with the farmers.
Supt David Holdway from Staffordshire Police said: “Of the 80 tractors stolen from farms across Staffordshire over the past 18 months, none of them had CESAR labelling.
“This is a huge positive as it shows it is acting as a deterrent to thieves.
“It is notoriously difficult to recover farm machinery once it has been stolen, but the technology fitted in tractors through CESAR helps us track machines if they are taken.”
Supt Holdway said he believed the new measures could help the thefts drop by as much as 50 per cent.
The cost of farm machinery can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Officers will now be visiting county farmers to raise awareness of the crimes and security measures available.