Gordon Handy, of Gordon Handy Machinery in New Zealand, is relieved to get his stolen tractor back but is concerned about a growing rural burglary problem. Source: Stuff co nz
Tighter budgets for some farmers may be fostering a burgeoning black market for stolen farm machinery in South Canterbury, New Zealand.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of rural burglaries reported in recent months, prompting police to urge farmers and business owners to tighten up security and report too-good-to-be-true offers of machinery and parts.
Tractors, motorbikes and trailers were among the items that had been flogged from South Canterbury properties, including a $72,000 tractor that was stolen from Gordon Handy Machinery in Washdyke on January 15.
Owner Gordon Handy was one of the lucky ones. The tractor was located in a riverbed near Orari on Thursday and returned with minimal damage.
“I’m blown away by the support we’ve had, from people ringing up with sightings of the tractor,” he said. “It’s been unreal.”
While he was thrilled about the tractor’s return, he believed rural burglaries were on the rise in the district.
“There obviously is a black market, because they never seem to surface again. The things that they’re taking, they know what they’re doing,” Mr Handy said.
The rural economy was also under pressure, which may have contributed to the increase in burglaries, he said.
“People are looking for cheap parts.”
Last week’s burglary was the first one to hit the business since it opened in 1979. While break-ins had not been a concern in the past, the burglary had prompted Handy to tighten up security.
“We’re getting better gates, and more security cameras. We’re extremely lucky that we haven’t been burgled before,” Mr Handy said.
Police were also concerned about the rise of burglaries in rural areas.
Senior Sergeant Mark Offen, of Timaru, said there was a market for stolen farm machinery, and people willing to pay extremely low prices were driving that market.
“People willing to pay ridiculously reduced prices create an industry for someone to go out there and steal to order,” he said.
“By receiving stolen goods, those people were opening themselves up to criminal investigations.”
He urged farmers and business owners to ensure their vehicles were secured, particularly if they were being left in paddocks or other areas overnight.
South Canterbury was not only region to be hit by burglars in rural areas recently.
A quad bike stolen was stolen from a remote farm shed near Oamaru overnight on January 17 or 18, Oamaru police said.
Community constable Bruce Dow said the offender may have had some prior knowledge of the quad bike, due to the remote location of the shed.