Police have warned farmers across North Yorkshire to be on the alert for organised gangs targeting expensive farming equipment – including the GPS systems used to guide tractors and combine harvesters.

PC Simon Barker of the North Yorkshire Police’s rural task force said the gangs were familiar with farm security and with the way farms operated – so it was vital that farmers took steps to protect their property.

“Although we understand that it’s a busy time of year, we’re reminding our rural communities to take simple steps to protect their GPS systems,” he said.

“These systems are expensive, and their theft can have a huge impact.”

The rural task force's PCSO Caroline Barker said GPS systems should always be removed from tractors and combine harvesters after a day in the fields, and stored somewhere secure at night.

Farmers should also make a note of their make, model and serial number, she said.

But PC Barker added that it was also vital that rural communities remain constantly on the alert – especially at night – so as to foil the thieves.

“We’re asking farmers – and the networks around farmers – just to be aware of happenings,” he said, in a video posted on Noth Yorkshire Police’s Facebook page.

“Eyes open to what’s going on, and more importantly make sure that we are aware of it – and that suspicious circumstances or anything that looks untoward, particularly at night time, is reported to us.”