Nearly 230 criminal offenses have been committed against farmers in the ten months of this year, according to State Police data. 75% of these offenses consist of theft from tractor equipment, 15% from different types of fraud, and 10% of tractor theft.
"They're an average of 17 thefts a month [..], and there's been an increase in thefts against the 10 months of the previous year when they were around 13 thefts a month. Most of these thefts have been committed in Latgale and Zemgale, especially the theft from tractors, the largest of which is fuel theft.
"Also at risk are batteries, GPS equipment and various types of parts, such as ploughs, tires, trailers," said Arita Raiskuma-Kukemilka, senior specialist at the State Police Prevention Control Department.
Mārtiņš Trons, a representative of the “Farmers Saeima”, predicted that the number of thefts would rise further due to the current economic situation.
It has become more difficult to steal and subsequently sell electrical equipment, but the theft of technical equipment can also cause great damage.
"Yes, unfortunately, the number of thefts from tractor machinery has increased, various types of equipment – navigation, screens. It must be said that at first moment, it may seem that the item can be quickly unscrewed and left with, but each such device has its own registration number and the true owner can be found sooner or later, even when selling this equipment. I would also call on those who buy this equipment to also be aware of the risks of buying used equipment," Trons said.
He also said that, with the news of the employee crisis in the home affairs system, there are concerns about how effectively the police will be able to engage in these theft cases.
The State Police, on the other hand, said that agricultural machinery is most often stolen right from farm backyards. Therefore, it calls on farmers to pay more attention to the safety of their property also during the winter period.
"First of all, it is essential to leave the machinery in closed areas where the key is available only to persons belonging, and to install sensor lights where this machinery is stored. To reduce the possibility of being a victim of fuel theft, there are fuel tanks with a lock. It would still be necessary to lock the machinery and remove all the valuables from it,” Raiskuma-Kukemilka said.