Farming News - Additional Police Officer appointment strengthens agricultural vehicle crime-fighting unit

Additional Police Officer appointment strengthens agricultural vehicle crime-fighting unit

03 May 2022
Frontdesk / Machinery

An extra police officer has been recruited to the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service’s (NaVCIS) agricultural vehicle unit to boost its fight against rural crime.

Detective Constable Adrian Mills has over 30 years crime-fighting experience in the West Midlands. As a member of the force’s Acquisitive Crime Team, he was involved in surveillance and covert operations tackling organised vehicle theft and burglaries.  Adrian has just completed two years’ service with the National Crime Agency before taking up his new role as Field Intelligence Officer at NaVCIS.

The unit, which is funded by leading rural insurer NFU Mutual, co-ordinates intelligence on stolen farm machinery between police forces across the UK and joins forces on raids to recover stolen machinery. In 2021 NaVCIS recovered agricultural vehicles worth £2.6m, up from £2.3m in 2020.

Adrian Mills said: “I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead. We want to build on our work with NFU Mutual to increase security and awareness amongst the farming community and regularly engage with manufacturers to encourage best practice and design out theft.”

Bob Henderson, Agricultural Engineering Manager at leading rural insurer NFU Mutual said: “Thefts from farms are extremely expensive, disruptive and upsetting for farmers. That’s why NFU Mutual supported farmers by investing £430,000 in rural security initiatives last year.

“Adrian’s appointment will enable the unit to expand the work it does. That’s particularly important in the current climate as we have concerns that farm equipment could come under attack as the effects of inflation and higher prices bite.”

Adrian will be working with Detective Constable Chris Piggott, who has headed the NaVCIS agricultural unit for the last 10 years. DC Chris Piggott, who has been with the Police Service for 25 years,  is a specialist vehicle examiner, working throughout the UK supporting and training police officers in identification of agricultural and plant machinery, supporting pre-planned warrants and conducting ports operations on a regular basis.

DC Piggott said: “Adrian’s wealth of experience tackling acquisitive crime is a huge boost to NaVCIS and will mean we can do far more to prevent farmers’ machinery from being stolen and bring criminals to justice.

“While we’re now seeing fewer tractors being stolen, quad bikes are currently the top piece of kit on rural thieves’ shopping lists, followed by all-terrain vehicles and trailers. Thieves are also continuing to target high-value GPS guidance systems used on tractors, combines and sprayers.”

Chris urges farmers to take all possible steps to secure farm equipment saying, “Measures such as always removing keys from machines, CESAR security marking, installing tracking devices and immobilisers will help to protect your property.

“Other steps to protect the farm site such as locked yard gates, floodlighting, alarms and CCTV are also effective depending on the location and layout of the farm.”