Agrievolution - Global Alliance for Agriculture Equipment Manufacturing Associations

Agricultural Engineers Association

UK - Agricultural Engineers Association
OPAL ACE logo.png
OPAL ACE logo.png

New Police unit helping to combat machinery theft

Theft of tractors and other agricultural machinery is a problem for everyone involved, from the owner, who may be left without equipment when they need it, to the insurance company which has to pay for a replacement. It is not good for machinery manufacturers either, as a reputation for being easy to steal is sure to affect demand for a vehicle or machine.

That’s why the AEA has been working on ways of reducing machinery theft for a long time. For over 10 years, we have been co-sponsoring the industry’s CESAR security marking and registration scheme with our colleagues in the Construction Equipment Association (CEA). CESAR combines a sophisticated security marking system with registration on a secure database. The marking system uses a combination of a highly-visible triangle and invisible  ‘micro-dots’ scattered around the machine, which can be scanned to identify a machine, even if the triangle has been removed.

Most major manufacturers of mobile agricultural and construction equipment now include CESAR on all their machines for the UK market. We recently passed a landmark with the 500,000th machine fitted with CESAR (as celebrated in the photo above, featuring Stephen Howarth from the AEA, Kevin Howells from Datatag, the company which runs the scheme, and Dave Luscombe from the CEA). The success of the scheme means that it is attracting interest from other countries, with several manufacturers now using it in Sweden and discussions underway elsewhere.

CESAR has two main advantages, compared with other security systems. One is that it is very hard for criminals to find and remove all of the microdots, of which there may be up to 100 on a machine. That means a stolen vehicle can usually be identified, even if all the other identification marks and security systems, such as trackers, have been removed. Second, the CESAR database means the ownership of a machine can be quickly established. Together, these mean that Police are much more likely to be able to identify a machine and reunite it with its owner. As a result, theft of CESAR-marked machines has dropped dramatically since the scheme was introduced. Most agricultural and construction equipment stolen these days is not CESAR marked.

Now, we have a new tool in our armoury, with the launch of a national Police intelligence team, known as the ACE team (Agriculture and Construction Equipment), funded by the insurance industry. They are based within OPAL, a unit which deals with serious and organised crime, reflecting the fact that much of the theft of agricultural and construction machinery is carried out by organised criminal gangs; most of the stolen machines are then exported, often to Eastern Europe. The ACE team works with officers from across the UK’s 45 regional Police forces, as well as other UK law enforcement agencies (such as the Border Force)  and stakeholders, and international Police networks such as Interpol.

Although still its infancy, the ACE team has already had some success in recovering stolen machinery and identifying new trends, such as the rising theft of GPS systems from tractors and other agricultural vehicles. The shortage of machines due to disruptions to global supply chains is also leading to an increase in thefts, as demand for used machines is so strong. That is certain to keep the team busy but the signs our that they will play a major role in preventing thefts and all the problems they cause.

Website of the CESAR scheme

The Agrievolution Alliance is the global voice of agricultural equipment manufacturers
that represents over 6000 companies around the world.


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