Ineffective tractor dealer security was prevalent during a widespread farm equipment theft. Investigators believe that a sophisticated tractor crime ring stole a dozen tractors in less than a year. Authorities think that the crime ring may have been operating in the northern Rockies.
The tractor theft crime ring hit farms and tractor dealerships in Idaho, Utah, Montana and Wyoming. Tractor theft crime rings have also been active in Canada and the mid west United States. The value of the stolen tractors was estimated at $500,000.
A corporate security manager said that tractors are usually ‘stolen to order,’ meaning thieves won’t steal large farm equipment unless a buyer is ready to purchase. Logistically, it is very difficult to move tractors for an extended period of time. A manager of corporate security said he believed that a specialist was involved with the string of tractor thefts. A specialist or product expert would have the knowledge to start the tractors and move them.
The stolen tractors were part of John Deere’s top-of-line 4000 series, each worth around $40,000. They were all used, making them harder to notice and track. All the tractor dealers were located near major highways.
One farm equipment dealership had at least 30 John Deere tractors on his parking lot. Because there were so many tractors on-site, it would have been easy to overlook a couple of them. A suspect somehow drove two used John Deere tractors off the equipment dealer’s lot and onto a flatbed truck. The value of the stolen tractors was estimated at $75,000. Tractor dealer security was not reported at this property.
Tractors do not have registration requirements. As a result, they are easy to fence. John Deere tractors are often targeted by criminals because they use a universal key, are frequently unattended, and are easy to sell.
Tractor thieves often take serial number plates to hide stolen tractors. Thieves stole six serial number plates from a tractor dealer in Idaho. A John Deere spokesperson said that owners of tractors do not usually notice missing serial plates. Because of this, many serial number plates and tractor thefts go undiscovered.
The news article did not say if tractor dealer security was in place at any of the victimized properties. The farm equipment dealerships were not clients of UCIT.
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