STORAGE CONTAINERS could play a part in tackling the UK's rising farm theft problem.

According to the NFU, rural crime cost the UK £54 million in 2019, increasing by 9% compared to the previous year. Of this, £9.3 million was attributed to farm vehicle theft.

This July, a new specialist police unit was created to combat the growing number of organised gangs stealing farm and construction machinery, both in the UK and abroad. This Agricultural and Construction Equipment (ACE) unit has been set up to monitor and prevent crime, and share intelligence to recover stolen machinery.

However, there are steps which farmers themselves can take to protect their businesses from preying criminals. According to mobile storage container company 'Mobile Mini's', secure storage containers have been common in preventing theft of equipment in many industries, including construction and maintenance, and could offer similar protection for the agricultural industry.

A spokesperson from the company explained that instead of locking up farm machinery outside, it could be stored in a temporary garage – not only concealing the type of equipment stored, but also barricading it against thieves.

"Visibility alone can be a deterrent for thieves, who understand that the chance of being caught is a risk worth taking only if they know what they are stealing," said Andrew Richardson on behalf of Mobile Mini. "With additional locks and security equipment, such as padlocks and alarms, storage containers deter the probability of thieves even more.

"The added benefit of storage containers is their mobility. With the right equipment, storage containers can be moved easily to any location on your land," he continued. "This means that equipment can be stored closer to home or can be kept near to where it is being used, adding protection on top of convenience. There’s no need to build permanent structures, and your safety storage can be moved seasonally."

Mr Richardson went on to suggest that a container could be used as a mobile office fitted with surveillance cameras: "Being away from your land can leave you open to theft or damage," he warned. "By being present on your land, organising the business side of your affairs, you can send a signal to budding thieves that the land is watched and protected."

Another use for a container could be for storing chemicals, which are also being targeted by criminal gangs: "While containers can help prevent their theft through secure storage, there is an added benefit of storing chemicals away from reach.

"Chemicals such as pesticides and fertiliser can be dangerous for yourself, the public, and the environment when not stored correctly. By storing chemicals in a storage container, you prevent theft and also limit the possibility of the public or wildlife endangering themselves. Even more, the mobility and security of a container mean that these chemicals can be stored away from living spaces, adding further safety assurances for your family," he concluded.