AVON and Somerset Police's Rural Affairs Unit is reminding rural residents of the importance of marking agricultural vehicles and equipment to make them less attractive to thieves.

Agricultural machinery and vehicle theft is one of the most prevalent types of countryside crime, with the cost of stolen property running into tens of millions annually.

Farm trailers, which are in high demand and relatively easy for thieves to steal, are a common target.

The unit held a crime prevention event in Frome on Wednesday (April 27) where agricultural trailers were marked for free, thanks to a number of kits provided by Datatag.

Datatag’s multi-layered security system uses tiny electronic transponders that are hidden on the vehicle or property and possess a unique identification code, which means the lawful owner can be identified by police even if all other identification numbers have been removed.

Evidence has shown that Datatagged products are around four times less likely to be stolen, and six times more likely to be recovered if they are.

The crime prevention event, which was held in partnership with Datatag and the NFU, took place at Frome Market. Datatag kits were available on a first come, first served basis.

PCSO Michael Storey said: “Theft, burglary and criminal damage are the most commonly reported crimes in rural areas and they can have a significant impact on farmers’ livelihoods.

“Evidence is increasingly showing that these activities are closely connected to organised crime and that criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods.

“That’s why we strongly recommend using the latest security marking technologies to protect property and why we offered a free of charge property marking service at the crime prevention event.

“As ever, we also to urge the public to report crime or suspicious activity to police, and to sign up to our Farmwatch scheme to receive alerts about thefts in their area.”

NFU spokesperson Lydia Dahlin added: “Rural crime costs farm businesses millions of pounds each year but also has a significant impact on the mental well-being of our farmers.

“It is great to be able to offer these kits in conjunction with Datatag and Avon and Somerset Police to help farmers to deter thieves from acting, as well as having a much better chance of recovery with registered machinery.”