FARMERS are being warned by Gloucestershire Police to take extra care over their machinery after an increase in criminals targeting farm equipment.

Organised teams work very quickly in stealing the machinery and shipping the loot to Eastern Europe and farmers are calling on Police to respond to incidents faster.

However PCC Martin Surl has assured farmers the police respond to 80 per cent rural crimes within the national target of 20 minutes of the call being made. This is in spite of their budget being cut by almost a quarter.

But PCC Surl did say victims should contact the police sooner if they are to have a better chance of making a conviction.

He said: “It would be nice if people who have lost a tractor report it when it is stolen, not seven days later.

“It is most likely to be in a container to Eastern Europe within a couple of days. It is important to keep farmers updated, but it will not be in a local field. It is serious and organised criminals who steal farm machinery, not locals.”