Police are encouraging farming communities to carry out regular security checks to ensure their property and livestock are secure, following an increase in items being stolen from tractors across Northern Ireland.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Rural and Wildlife Crime Lead Superintendent Johnston McDowell said: “We understand how concerning rural crime is and we are acutely aware of the significant increase in GPS equipment being stolen from tractors across the province. These items hold a sizeable value and will cause significant upset to the farming businesses involved.


“Since the beginning of June, we have received seven reports of this type of equipment being stolen from tractors. The rural areas where these crimes have been carried out include, Ballymoney, Glenavy, Loughgall, Tandragree, Banbridge, Portaferry and Hillsborough.


“High demand for GPS equipment is fuelling this type of crime, and in most cases the stolen equipment is being sold online for these individuals to make a quick buck. If you see items for sale on websites for much cheaper than you would pay on the High Street, there is a chance they have been stolen and I would encourage everyone to think twice about purchasing such items. Please always do careful checks before purchasing second-hand equipment online.


“This type of theft is well organised and the criminals know what they are looking for, so it’s imperative that farmers remove GPS kit where possible when the tractor is not in use, storing it somewhere safely.

Superintendent McDowell continued: “To date, no arrests have been made but this is very much an ongoing police investigation. We will continue to work with our colleagues in in the Rural Crime Partnership to address these reports in a bid to prevent more crime in rural communities. Representatives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Ulster Farmers’ Union, NFU, Department of Justice, Police and Community Safety Partnership, Federation of Small Businesses and Young Farmers Union work collaboratively so we can share important information, raise awareness and respond to emerging crime trends in a timely manner to support and keep our farming communities safe.


"It is important that we all work together to make the countryside safer for everyone. Reporting promptly to the police any activity that raises your suspicions is a good way to support our investigation and will help to deter criminals and reduce crime in your area. You can make a report by calling the non-emergency number 101 or via the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111. Alternatively, a report can be made using the online reporting form www.psni.police.uk/makeareport. Any information you provide could be crucial to catch those responsible and bring them before the courts.”