The theft of heavy machinery is a considerable problem and is sometimes the result of organised crime.

These thefts are often from farms, woodland and domestic rural locations as well as building sites, and range from sit-on mowers and quad bikes up to very large plant and construction machinery.

If the theft has already happened, call the police as soon as possible, with as many details as you can. Call 999 if it’s happening now. If it’s already happened, report it to us online.

Stolen machinery is added to a national database monitored by specialist police officers.

There's a lot you can do to deter thieves, prevent your property being taken and to get it back safely if it is.

Make machinery secure

You can secure your property using:

  • trackers
  • alarms
  • an immobiliser
  • CCTV


Consider fitting machinery and vehicles with a tracking device and/or tagging system.

Items such as quad bikes, sit-on lawn mowers and rotavators are very desirable to thieves. Consider making them difficult to remove by:

  • shackling them together, or
  • chaining them to a hitch secured to the ground or strong fabric of a building


Lock or immobilise vehicles and equipment when you’re not using them. Remove keys from cars, tractors and any other vehicles you leave unattended.

If you’re using a tracking company you must still contact police to create a crime report number.

The crime report number usually (but not always) has seven digits and today’s date. The tracking company will need this to call for police assistance.

Mark your property

You can put any kind of mark on your property to make it unique and so you always know which item is yours.

One option is to mark it with the number of your address followed by your postcode, eg 63 WR6 2BB.

Most organisations recognise post codes, so they can identify your property and return it to you. If you just mark it with a name or symbol it doesn’t tell the police who owns it or where it came from.

Remember to mark and record machine attachments such as drills, buckets and ploughs.

Make a property log

Make a property list of your valuable items, detailing the:

  • make
  • model
  • serial number
  • value
  • description 


Take photographs of all your valuables and note any distinguishing marks, including where and how you’ve property marked it.

To secure the photos you can:

  • print and keep them in a safe place, such as a fire-proof safe
  • load them onto your computer
  • keep them on a memory stick


By having these records, if your property is stolen, you’ll have as much information as possible to give to the police and pass to retailers and other organisations to help find your property. 

What to do if your machinery is stolen

Call the police as soon as possible, with as many details as you can. Call 999 if it’s happening now. Report it online if it’s already happened.

Try to have these details ready about what’s been stolen:

  • make
  • model
  • serial number
  • chassis number
  • engine
  • registration
  • colour
  • distinguishing marks

 
You’ll also be asked:

  • where it was taken from
  • the time you last saw it
  • the time you noticed it missing
  • if there’s CCTV
  • if there’s a tracker fitted and details of the company that fitted it
  • if it’s security marked
  • if it’s protected by Immobilise

 
Make sure you record your crime reference number; it’ll be needed by:

  • your insurance company, to progress your claim
  • the police if you ask for an update


Further advice and information

Secured By Design (SBD) – police projects that focus on property security design

Datatag – the forensic marking system supported by the police

CESAR Scheme – official equipment and registration scheme for construction and agriculture

CrimeStoppers – report crime anonymously

Action Fraud – fraud prevention advice and reporting