Farmers and buyers warned over online sale of stolen machinery
Published 23/08/2016 | 02:30
Farmers are being warned to take pictures of their machinery and vehicles to help in the fight against rural crime.
And farm workers buying equipment online have been told to be wary of deals that seem too good to be true.
Since 2010, there have been almost 30,000 farm-related crime incidents.
Gardaí, along with Crimestoppers, the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) and trading website DoneDeal have launched a campaign to combat rural and farm thefts.
It involves making sure farmers know their equipment and urging them, and the general population, to be aware of the sale of stolen goods. Rural dwellers have been told not to keep suspicions to themselves and report any activity they think is suspect in their communities.
Finbarr Garland, who is the customer safety liaison officer with DoneDeal, said more than 830,442 farming-related ads had been placed on the site in the last five years.
Mr Garland said that while only a "tiny" amount of ads on the website were suspicious, around 0.76pc, the sale of stolen goods was still a concern.
"We regularly remind those using our site of tips on how to stay safe online," he said.
These tips included being suspicious of goods that were too cheap, never transferring money without seeing the machinery first, and asking someone who is familiar with the machinery to inspect it.
"By following these measures and reporting any suspicious items to us, we can all help to keep buying and selling online safe," he said.
Detective Garda Eugene O'Sullivan of the Garda Stolen Vehicle Unit said that the number one item stolen from farms was trailers.
This was followed by vehicles such as quads and tractors, along with power tools.
He said machinery was often shipped out of the country to continental Europe shortly after being stolen from a farmyard.
"The gardaí have a number of systems in place to try and counteract theft of plant machinery, tools and equipment with text alert, community policing and neighbourhood watch," he said.
In 2014, a joint initiative by the IFA and the gardaí, called Theftstop.ie, was set up to enable farmers to mark their equipment with unique security identification.
This can be uploaded to the website, making the branded items less desirable to steal.
"It's important that people know their own property, their own tools and equipment," Det Gda O'Sullivan said.
"The more information we have in relation to (an item that's been stolen), the better chance we have of recovering it."
IFA president Joe Healy said crime was one of the major issues its members face.
"We recognise the importance of providing support and assistance to our members because of the prevalence of crime in rural communities," he said.
He added that the IFA's crime prevention officer, former garda Colin Connolly, was working through its county executive network to give farmers his insight and practical advice.