Poor tractor dealer security was put in the spotlight during a widespread theft of farm equipment. A theft ring stole a dozen tractors in a span of 10 months. Investigators think the sophisticated vehicle crime ring may have been operating in the northern Rockies.
The total value of the stolen tractors was about $500,000. The crime ring hit farm and tractor dealerships in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah. Tractor theft crime rings have been active in the Midwest and Canada.
A manager of corporate security said that tractors are 'stolen to order.' This means that thieves won't steal the farm equipment unless there is a buyer ready. Logistically, the stolen goods are too big to move around for a long period of time. He believed that a specialist was involved with the string of tractor thefts. The specialist would have had the knowledge to start the tractors and move them.
All the stolen farm equipment were large tractors that included Deere's top of the line 4000 series, worth at least $40,000 each. All the tractors were used, making them harder to notice and track. All the dealerships were located near major highways.
An owner of a farm equipment dealership had at least 30 John Deere tractors on his lot. He said with that many tractors, it would have been too easy to overlook one or two. An unknown suspect managed to drive two used John Deere tractors off the dealership lot and onto a waiting flatbed truck. The value of the stolen vehicles was nearly $75,000. Tractor dealer security was not reported at this commercial property.
Tractors do not have registration requirements, so they are easy to fence. John Deere tractors are started with a common key and often left unattended. Factor in the ease at which criminals can sell them, and these pieces of equipment become prime theft targets.
Thieves often take serial number plates to mask stolen tractors. Six serial number plates disappeared from a tractor dealer in Idaho. A spokesperson for John Deere said that tractor owners and tractor dealerships usually do not notice missing serial plates. As a result, there may be more incidents of serial plate and tractor theft that go undiscovered.
The news piece did not report tractor dealer security at any of the other properties. The farm equipment dealerships were not clients of Stealth Monitoring.
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