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Going hi-tech to tackle rural crime

New weapon: rural crime crackdown

FARMERS are fighting back against the growing menace of rural crime with the help of a new hi-tech security innovation. Intelligent Band uses a sophisticated computerised code to personalise a vehicle to its owner, preventing thieves from ‘hot-wiring’ tractors, quad bikes, and other agricultural vehicles. It means that vehicles protected by the system can only be operated by the holder of a wristband which matches its unique code.

The product is the brainchild of James Anstis-Smith, whose company is based near Shrewsbury. He said: “Millions of pounds of agricultural equipment is stolen every year, and the figure is on the rise. NFU Mutual’s latest rural crime survey revealed that rural theft now costs the UK over £44 million a year.” The figure has been driven up by the theft of high-value tractors worth up to £80,000, while quad bike thefts also rose 14 per cent during the period “Intelligent Band is a powerful deterrent to these opportunist thieves, stopping them in their tracks.

The principle is very similar to signature guns used by James Bond in films such Skyfall and Licence To Kill. “Unless the machine’s code matches your unique band, you won’t be able to start the engine. And any attempt at tampering or hot-wiring will be useless.” The Intelligent Band system can be fitted to any vehicle, regardless of age, make or model. It integrates with the wiring and starting system, and works with 12/24v petrol or diesel engines. “One single Intelligent Band can hold the access code to a whole fleet of vehicles, removing the need for large sets of keys, or codes,” said Mr Anstis- Smith. “Each band is serialised, so a farmer can give some workers access to more vehicles than others – this is particularly useful if some people are either not qualified, or too young to operate certain machines.”

Edward Owen, who farms at Llansantffraid on the west Shropshire border, is among the first to have tested the system. “Intelligent Band has been a welcome addition to our business,” he said. “It has given us heightened security without being too intrusive on our daily routine. “The technology is easy to use for all ages – from our 17-year-old workman to my 72-year-old dad, and we have the added advantage of knowing that all vehicles are secure at all times. He adds: “The installation was quick and has not changed the vehicles in any way, cosmetically. The major advantage is that one key fob has replaced all keys needed for each vehicle, making life much easier. “All our vehicles are now safe during the day while standing on the yard, and at night when most thefts occur. The Intelligent Band team have been helpful, and easy to work with at all times.”