There has been a call for a major overhaul of how second-hand tractors are registered following yet another discovery of stolen machinery in north Co Dublin last week.
The latest farm raid by the Garda Stolen Motor Vehicle Investigation Unit yielded a top-of-the-range John Deere 7730 with just eight hours on the clock. It is estimated to be worth €120,000.
The tractor was traced during follow-up searches linked to the €1m stolen machinery haul uncovered in nearby Balscaddan last month.
New and vintage tractors, trailers and diggers were discovered in a leased farmyard. It is believed that all of the machinery recovered was stolen from various premises in Britain.
According Detective Sergeant Finbarr Garland, who is heading up the eight-man investigation, the registration process for second-hand tractors needs to be completely tightened up.
"The 7730 we found last week had been bought by an unsuspecting farmer one month previously," said Detective Sergeant Garland. "We've traced it back to a John Deere dealer in Hampshire in the UK, where the machine was literally driven out of the yard last July.
"The farmer managed to register and insure the machine because he had an invoice showing the tractor's chassis number on it. When we did our checks, we discovered that the chassis number actually belongs to a similar model John Deere working on a farm in New Mexico in the US."
Detective Sergeant Garland's unit is now working with British police to track down the man they believe is behind the stolen machinery found in north Co Dublin. The unit has had a very successful year, with millions of euro worth of stolen machinery recovered.
"But we need a better registration system," Detective Sergeant Garland said. "The production of an invoice alone shouldn't be enough. At the very least there should be a few days for background calls before a registration cert is issued."