Tractors from the Fens being stolen to be sold on the black market in Iraq and Afghanistan

PUBLISHED: 12:17 21 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:37 02 June 2010

TRACTORS stolen from the Fens are being sold on the black market in Iraq and Afghanistan. Organised gangs have been breaking into farms to steal hi-tech agricultural vehicles worth nearly £100,000. A dedicated tractor theft unit has now been set up by d

TRACTORS stolen from the Fens are being sold on the black market in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Organised gangs have been breaking into farms to steal hi-tech agricultural vehicles worth nearly £100,000.

A dedicated "tractor theft" unit has now been set up by detectives to stop the crime operation in its tracks.

Dave Sargent from Lincolnshire Police said: "This is a real emerging trend."

The head of the Spalding vehicle crime unit added: "These types of crimes are a huge blow to farmers and the local rural economy as a whole.

"We need to work together to tackle the problem."

Opportunistic thieves began their money-making scam about four weeks ago.

PC Sargent said: "There is a huge international black market for them, with many being shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan to be used on regeneration projects."

He said Lincolnshire Police are working closely with neighbouring forces and a dedicated unit in the Met to tackle the issue."

In recent days police in South Lincs have reported a series of raids on local farms which have lost tractors.

A green John Deere tractor was stolen from a farm in East Bank, Sutton Bridge last night.

A yellow John Deere tractor was also taken from Manor Hill Farm, Sutton St James, also last night.

A JCB fast track, registration AE08LMF, worth about £90,000 was taken from a farm in Crowland between Friday April 9 and Monday April 12. It also had a fertiliser spreader worth about £15,000 with it.

A John Deer tractor, registration FX08LJC, worth about £65,000 was taken from a farm at Shepeau Stow, Whaplode Drove, overnight on March 25/26.

Another John Deer tractor, registration FX06 EZW, was taken from a farm off Bidder Road, Donington, overnight on March 21/22.

PC Sargent said: "We need farmers and the public to be vigilant to prevent more thefts and to help us catch these criminals."

He has urged the public to call Lincolnshire Police whenever they see tractors in convoy with other vehicles on the roads on the evenings.

The officer reassured people: "You won't be wasting our time.

"We'd rather check and if we start getting calls like this, we have a much better chance of getting out there and making an arrest."

People can contact the force on 0300 111 0300.

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