The number of thefts of agricultural and construction equipment in rural areas of England and Wales rose by 300% in the first quarter of this year. According to Politico, the police believe that it is being stolen for resale to Russia, where official deliveries of equipment and spare parts have been stopped due to sanctions.
According to Andrew Huddlestone, head of the British police's rural crime unit, available evidence indicates that organized crime groups are smuggling stolen equipment into Eastern Europe. While the police do not have irrefutable evidence that the final point of sale is Russia, but, as Huddlestone emphasized, he and his colleagues have little doubt about this.
“If you are interested in my professional opinion, then when a country is under sanctions, you should expect the black market to react to this,” the policeman explained. According to Huddlestone, thieves are in particular demand for expensive GPS devices that help farmers navigate the ground during planting.
The insurance company NFU Mutual said that the damage caused by such thefts in the first four months of this year exceeded 500 thousand pounds ($ 625 thousand), which is twice as high as in the same period last year.
“It's literally like a pandemic. Nothing [of equipment] is safe wherever you park it, ”a farmer from Hertfordshire told reporters.