This week there has been a spate of thefts of GPS systems for tractors from farms in Dorset and Wiltshire.

Several GPS domes and control screens were stolen in the night of July 4 from tractors in the areas of Horton, East Dorset and Broadchalke, Wiltshire.

From just one farm in East Dorset thieves made off with a Fendt vario terminal/display, a Muller controller for a Kuhn fertiliser spreader, a Trimble TMX screen (serial number 5613550547) GPS guidance system, two New Holland screens and a Trimble GFX screen (serial number 5841400390) GPS guidance system.

Police forces from both counties are reminding farmers to remove the domes when they are not in use, lock them away out of sight, record the serial numbers and keep their location on a need to know basis.

Officers have also shared crime prevention advice to help prevent further thefts.

They remind owners of John Deere Starfire 6000 systems that there is a new software version available which enables the use of pin code protection to help secure these units. All newly supplied by dealer Starfire 6000 units will come with the software update. The update renders the system useless without the pin protection. So owners of the SF6000 system should enable the pin protection.

John Deere America has also released a video of how to protect your Starfire 6000.

Owners are advised to contact their local John Deere dealer if they have any doubts about the software update. The dealer will also be able to supply a lockable bracket and pin protected sticker to reduce the chances of the unit being stolen.

For all other systems police recommend:

• Remove all GPS guidance receivers, aerials, or antenna globe when not in use and keep them locked away in secure locked place when possible.

• If you not going to be using the GPS equipment for a while i.e. while on road work then please remove the dome as this is a moving advert for thieves and its even easier for them to locate you if you use sign written vehicles.

• Consider fitting security tethers or brackets to stop units being removed.

• Consider marking screens and GP receivers with UV marking solutions.

• Consider marking these with UV pen or engraving your postcode or forensic marking such as Datatag are all options to consider. Machines fitted and registered with certain security markings are four times less likely to be stolen and our 6 times more likely to be recovered if they are stolen.

• The police can supply UV marking kits free of charge to members of Farmwatch which can be used to mark these pieces of equipment. Members of Farmwatch should email with name, address including postcode and the quantity required, and officers will post the kit.

• Store machinery inside locked barns if possible.

• Where locking machines away isn’t an option consider fitting mains or battery-operated alarms to outbuildings or around the perimeter of areas where machines are stored.

• If CCTV is being considered, consider fitting it to alarms as part of a system. CCTV cannot be relied on fully as this won’t create an alert of intruders at the time.

• CCTV and intruder alarms will deter most thieves but they must be checked regularly to ensure they will work when needed and they are placed in a position that won’t be triggered by animals or foliage moving in the wind.

• Record machinery serial numbers and photographs for reference. This will help police should they be stolen with press releases and social media appeals furthering the chances of the items being recovered.

• Encourage farm staff to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour or vehicles to the police by calling 101 or, if a crime is in progress, 999.