Rural crime – Equipment Theft Bill progresses through parliament

First published: 07 December 2022

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The NFU has been working together with Greg Smith MP and a number of other organisations, to produce the Equipment Theft (Prevention) Bill, aimed at unlocking new powers for the Secretary of State to tackle the resale and theft of farm equipment. 

If the Equipment Theft (Prevention) Bill completes its journey through the House of Commons and House of Lords and becomes law, the Home Secretary will have the power to make regulations that deter the theft and resale of Quads and ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicles).

Reducing rural crime

This year has seen a huge uptick in rural crime incidents, with NFU Mutual's 2022 Crime Report indicating that the cost of rural crime has risen by more than 40% in the first quarter, with Quad and ATV theft totalling £2.2m in the previous year. 

Shipping delays and the effects of Covid and Brexit are contributing to a rise in demand for both new and second-hand farm machinery. As waiting lists grow and market values soar, thieves are seeing quads and ATVs as expensive, easily portable, hot ticket items with a ready resale market in this country and abroad.

The NFU has been working closely with the Home Office on the new Bill, along with NFU Mutual, and other key stakeholders, as well as facilitating meetings between insurers, police leaders, security companies and manufacturers to identify solutions.

What does the Equipment Theft Bill mean?

We've put together a briefing for MPs, outlining the changes the Bill could help bring about. 

Read: NFU members | Equipment Theft (Prevention) Bill

The key provisions the Bill would facilitate are:

Immobilisers

These are electronic devices that will only allow the engine to run if the correct key or key fob is present, which will protect the vehicle from 'hot-wiring' as well as deterring thieves.

Forensic markings

Markers remain hidden on vehicles, but can be identified under UV light or in some cases contain a unique code that can be read by scanners, giving the police powerful evidence to link stolen vehicles to their owners.

Registration database

This would give further support to the police, when they are trying to reunite stolen vehicles with their owners. 

NFU response

The Bill has now passed its second reading in the House of Commons; this was the first time MPs had the opportunity to debate the detail behind the Bill. The committee stage follows next – this is the chance for any amendments or changes to the Bill to be debated. 

The NFU will continue to monitor the Bill as it progresses through parliament and hopes the that the government will support the passage of this Bill.

However, we would like to see the scope of the Bill widened in secondary legislation to include other agricultural equipment, with the theft of GPS systems, tractors and trailers reportedly costing NFU Mutual £9.1 million in 2021.


Read more on how the NFU is tackling rural crime:

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