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Vehicle thefts (cars) have been declining over the past decade, mainly due to better security features fitted by manufacturers and more sophisticated vehicle documentation by the authorities.

Unfortunately this has shifted the focus of criminals away from cars to other vehicles such as tractors, which are in many cases more valuable and have little or no security features.

But it isn’t just modern tractors that are being targeted.  Vintage tractors may not be road registered, and so are easier for the criminals to sell on, as they don’t require any documentation and they are not easily traceable by the police.  There is a ready demand for parts and so it’s also possible for criminals to cash in the tractos by this method.


Field Marshall tractor ploughing


With many older tractos weighing little over a tonne, it is easier for these machines to be loaded onto a trailer and towed away.  And of course, we all know that one ignition key fits many differnent tractors.

Vintage and classic tractors are constantly increasing in price and some models are very valuable indeed.

This is a very sad situation, as some of these tractors have been owned by their keepers since they were new and so also have sentimental value.  Vintage Tractor Engineer has hundreds of conversations each year with tractor enthusiasts and we can honestly say that they are some of the most genuine, honest, enthusiastic, positive and most fantastic people you could wish to meet.

A news article by the BBC last year reported how some rare tractor parts were stolen from a property in North Yorkshire, UK, so they’re targeting parts as well now.


What Can You Do?

This is really a reminder to everyone that security is becoming a necessity for the vintage tractor owner.  Please take a minute to assess where you keep your tractors and parts.  Are they out of sight of the public? are they locked up? is there a gate on your property? do you have security cameras or alarms? is there a back way into your property across the fields? do you have security lighting?

Anything to deter thieves will be worthwhile.

A laser beam virtual security ‘fence’ system (link to a simple system) is a useful tool.  When the laser beam is broken, simple systems sound an alarm, and more sophisticated systems will notify you via mobile phone.


Make Your Tractor A Difficult Target

There are various security products available, although most of them are more suited to modern tractors and are not so useful or easy to fit to a vintage tractor.  Security measures which do not damage the look and authenticity of a vintage tractor are more difficult to implement.

The CESAR system uses Datatag technology to add sophisticated tagging to the machine.  It does, however, rely on the machine to be found before the Datatag can be read to confirm that it is your machine!!  Tractors fitted with Datatag technology are four times less likely to be stolen, but you will have identification plates fitted to your tractor (something that doesn’t look good on your perfect restoration work).

Electric or electronic immobilisers puts a break into an electrical circuit or fuel line.  Vintage tractors ony have simple electrical systems, so this could easily be bypassed.

GPS tracking devices could be more useful for vintage tractors as long as you can find a safe hiding place for the device.  They can be wired into the tractors electrics or rely on their own internal battery which may be more suitable.  A geofence can be set on the tracker, so if the vehicle goes outside of a defined area then the owner is instantly notified.  One thing to be aware of is that GPS signals don’t travel well through steel (not good if your tractor has been stuffed inside a shipping container), but there are trackers which also use GSM/GPRS mobile phone signals to get around this problem.


Physical Security (maybe more suitable for vintage tractors)

Tractors physically secured to the wall with heavy duty chains and locks, or secure chain through the rear wheel and around the transmission housing.

All your tractors parked in the back of the shed?  Then park your car in the door way to block entry (your car will have all the modern security features ans so make it difficult to move).

Does your shed have concrete walls and steel doors.

Turn the steering wheel into full lock before fitting a steering wheel locking device.

Can you remove the rotor from the distributor?

Note serial numbers, engine numbers, casting numbers etc.  Put up a notice in your tractor shed that you have all this information.

Fit and secure a strong metal bar underneath the tractor and through both rear wheels.  Lifting equipment would then be needed to move the tractor.



Please remember that it is not mandatory to have insurance for tractors that are not registered for road use.  It may be sensible to re-assess the insurance cover for these tractors (and any parts you have), as it can be easily overlooked.


Got any other security suggestions?  Leave us a comment, we’d be interested to hear.