Here’s How Agri-Tech Offers A New Angle on Rural Crime – TechRound

Zee September 5, 2023
Norfolk has witnessed an increase in rural crime, with statistics painting a picture for local farmers and businesses. Agri-TechE recently held an event to talk about technology’s role in improving safety measures and combatting theft in the rural areas.
Rural crime in Norfolk jumped by 52% last year alone. Meanwhile, the National Crime Unit reports that thieves stole machinery three times as often in the first three months of 2023. These aren’t mere numbers; they spell out real trouble for farmers and entire communities, extending beyond Norfolk to counties like Cambridgeshire and Essex.
Specific items such as quad bikes and All-Terrain Vehicles are common targets for thieves. The global chip shortage has inflated the black market demand for stolen goods, leading to an increase in theft. Ingeniously, criminals have even started deploying drones to scout out rural businesses and identify valuable equipment.
Charlie Yorke, a Farm Insurance Specialist at NFU Mutual, has stated that while conventional security measures like locks, gates, and surveillance cameras do help, they aren’t foolproof. Basic precautions like removing keys from vehicles, marking livestock, and noting serial and chassis numbers are all recommended, but more innovative solutions are necessary to provide full-proof security.
Several technology solutions are currently available that offer enhanced protection. Among these, tracking devices and electronic immobilisers are particularly effective. Forensic marking technologies, such as the CESAR mark, have proven their worth by making it significantly easier to identify and recover stolen equipment.
It’s not just about recovering stolen goods; it’s about creating a strong deterrent. Insurers like NFU Mutual even offer financial incentives, such as policy discounts, to those employing these advanced security features.
Norfolk County Council is promoting Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to increase security. Sophisticated systems now exist that allow remote monitoring of livestock through tracking devices, alerting farmers instantly to theft or animal distress.

Similarly, remote tank monitors for fuel, liquid chemicals, or fertilisers offer added layers of security, as do sensors on farm gates. All these IoT systems can integrate seamlessly to offer a comprehensive security suite that brings farmers peace of mind.
Scheduled events, like the online gathering hosted by Agri-TechE, aim to educate farmers on the current state of technology and how it can be effectively used to secure assets.
These events often feature industry leaders like Charlie Yorke and Giles Orpen-Smellie, Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk. Their insights are invaluable for those seeking to improve their current security measures.
Louis Clabburn, Head of Member Services at AF, emphasizes the need for constant vigilance. His call to action for all farms and rural businesses is to periodically assess their security arrangements.
It’s a proactive approach, aimed at staying ahead of criminals who are continually adopting new methods to commit crimes.
Combating rural crime calls for a fresh mix of traditional and high-tech methods. Norfolk County Council is already bringing innovative tools to rural areas, reinforcing the notion that no single approach will solve the issue.
A blend of tried-and-true practices with cutting-edge tech seems to offer the best defense for rural communities.
Lara Dolden July 15, 2021
TechRound Team April 13, 2022
Dana Leigh May 25, 2023
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