Crime gang steal vintage tractor
A FARMER from Silk Willoughby farmer has spoken of his anger after a tractor belonging to his late father was stolen from a locked shed.
The 1970 Massey Ferguson MF135 tractor belonged to Chris Bird, who kept it after his dad died ten years ago.
Overnight on August 20, thieves moved other heavy duty farming machinery to get at the vintage tractor and took it from the locked barn.
And Mr Bird, 48, of Church Farm, believes this is the latest in a long line of organised crime hits in the county.
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"It was one of my father's old tractors," he said.
"It is not worth a lot of money but it is the sentimental value of it that was a lot.
"It was going to be done up and re-sprayed.
"I wasn't at the farm at the time but when I was told about the tractor being stolen I was pretty angry.
"I definitely think it was stolen to order."
Mr Bird has been the victim of agricultural crime in the past and believes the problem is getting worse.
"I don't know a farmer in this area that has not had a problem," he said. "I wouldn't dream of leaving a tractor in a field overnight anymore. It would be gone within two days."
A second MF135 had its mudguards and bonnet stolen from a field in Helpringham overnight on August 6. Police say gangs are still stealing tractors to order and shipping them out of the country.
PC Nick Willey, rural crime officer, believes gangs are now responsible rather than opportunist thieves.
"It is down to organised crime gangs making money, not opportunist thieves taking a drop of diesel," he said.
"They are targeting high value tractors. "They don't just take a tractor for a few bits. Normally they are stolen to order and taken on a curtain sided lorry, to be taken out of country and shipped.
"Police forces are getting switched onto it, but it is all about members of the public being aware."
Willey's comments come as Lincolnshire Police reported a drop in the number of thefts and incidents of criminal damage to farming equipment.
Lincolnshire Police received 29 reports from February to July this year, compared to 38 over the same six-month period last year.
Martin Green from Sleaford Police, said: "If you are aware of a person that may have been showing some interest in MF135 tractors in and around Lincolnshire please contact me personally with any information that you may well have.
"It is possible that these have been stolen to order to rebuild another tractor or sell on. Farm sales etc are being checked however with the internet it is not always possible to research fully.
"Finally, a plea to all tractor owners, photograph your property to assist recovery, record all relevant details of your property, and attempt to keep it secure."
Anyone with information is asked to call Martin Green on 07939 312651 or 101.