A fully equipped tractor, sitting by itself in a field is a verytempting sight to a clever thief. It's not unusual for farmers to leaveequipment scattered across their land, but investigators say it makes itfar too easy for thieves to operate.
Extension Agent Bob Pleasants says farmers should take precautions.
The assortment of stolen tractors that was found is a good example ofhownotto protect them. Together they're worth nearly $30,000, but the Johnston County dealer who lost them to thieves left thekey in almost every machine.
Deputies say they were lucky to find the equipment before it was sold.Even though outdoor and farm equipment can be more expensive than a car,there is far less paperwork attached to it. Every car in North Carolinamust be registered with the Division of Motor Vehicles, but farm equipmentdoes not. That makes for an easy transition to the black market.
Detective Robert Smith of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department says,since farmers tend not to keep up with serial numbers, stolen equipment ishard to trace.
Detectives say the best way to protect yourself is to mark what'syours, keep a record of it, and ask your neighbor to help watch it. Eightyears ago, Wayne County deputies arrested a man they say stole and soldmore than $1 million worth of farm equipment.