A Sussex farmer says he is devastated and demoralised after an organised crime gang stole thirteen GPS systems worth around £200,000.
Thieves stole thirteen specialist agricultural sat nav systems from the farm near Bognor Regis last Thursday (13 August).
Sussex Police believe the theft was linked to an organised crime gang and to a number of similar incidents across the country.
Twelve of the NAV 900 GPS systems customised especially for agricultural use were stolen from tractors parked up for the night at Sefter Farm in Pagham Road.
It is believed that they were targeted between 12 midnight and 4am.
Neil Cairns, head of crop production at the farm, told ITV News he 'felt like the business had been violated'.
"We have spent an awful lot money trying to get this right and then somebody comes and takes it away from you," he said.
According to Sussex Police, each of the units is worth around £11-12,000 and can be sold on the black market for anything from half to nearly full face value.
Officers from the rural crime team are looking to see if the thefts may be linked to similar incidents elsewhere in the country.
Given the scale and apparent planning, it is believed that an organised crime group may be responsible for the crime.
Anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area between Wednesday evening and dawn on Thursday is asked to report online or call 101 quoting serial 286 of 13/08.
How can I better protect my GPS equipment?
NFU Mutual has offered GPS security advice for farmers:
• Remove GPS guidance receivers, aerials and antenna globes from tractors when not in use and keep them in a secure locked place whenever possible
• Consider fitting security tethers or brackets to stop units being removed
• Mark your post code on GPS units either with a UV pen, engraving tool of forensic marking system such as Datatag
• Store machinery in locked buildings whenever possible
• Where locking machines away isn’t an option, consider fitting mains or battery-operated alarms to cover around the perimeter of areas where machines are stored
• CCTV and intruder alarms will deter most thieves, but make sure they are checked regularly to ensure they will work when you need them and they are placed where they won’t be triggered by animals or foliage moving in the wind
• Record machinery serial numbers and photograph kit to help police identify stolen items and increase the chances of them being recovered
• Let employees know the security arrangements that are expected of them while working on the farm
• Join local farmwatch or social media security groups to keep in touch with rural crime trends in your area
• Encourage farm staff to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour or vehicles to the police on 101, or 999 in an emergency