Dozens of stolen GPS units recovered as thieves jailed

A pair of “calculated criminals” has been jailed after stealing more than £200,000 worth of farming equipment from across Yorkshire.

locked farm gate, with rural landscape in the background

A total of 48 stolen GPS units and screens were recovered after the arrest of two men, who were recently jailed for their role in a series of high value farm thefts.

Tomas Staukauskas, 32, of Beverley Road, Hull, and Mantas Palionis, 31, of Abbey Street, Hull were sentenced on Tuesday 21st November at Hull Crown Court.

Both pleaded guilty and were jailed for four and three years respectively. 

An investigation was launched by Humberside Police after officers located a car that had been identified as being involved in multiple high value thefts in September.

Inside the car, a substantial amount of large farming GPS devices were found, several of which had been reported as stolen. They were wrapped in tinfoil to prevent the signal of the devices being detected.

A GPS signal jamming device and false licence plates were also discovered in a van at an address on Abbey Street. 

Further GPS devices were found at a storage unit visited by Staukauskas.

“Highly disruptive to farms”

Inspector Mark Earnshaw, from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force said: “The theft of GPS systems is highly disruptive to farming operations, given the delays in replacing stolen kit. As well as this it also carries huge financial implications for members of rural communities at a time when we are all feeling the pressures associated with the cost of living.

“This positive result shows our close working relationship with neighbouring police forces and highlights that there are no borders, even across vast open countryside.”

NFU Mutual’s head of engineering Bob Henderson said the scale of GPS theft has ramped up worryingly in recent years. Data from the rural insurer shows that in 2022 the cost of GPS theft rose by 15% to £1.8 million, while early figures suggest the cost more than doubled for the first four months of 2023.

Mr Henderson urged farmers to remain on guard by updating their security and recording any serial numbers and photographing GPS kit.

NFU vice president David Exwood added: “Highly organised gangs of criminals have continued to plague the British countryside, stealing expensive GPS equipment, livestock, high-value farm machinery, as well as trespassing on private land.

“It is very good news that these criminals have been convicted and GPS units have been recovered. We commend the hard work of the National Rural Crime Unit and police rural task force teams across the country.”

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