Gardaí have charged a Lithuanian man in his 30s in connection with an incident of theft from a farmyard in Naul, Co Dublin in the early hours of 30 June, 2024. The man, who gardaí did not name, has been charged and appeared before the morning sitting at Court three of the Criminal Courts of Justice, in Dublin on Monday, 1 July 2024.

On Sunday morning last, at 1.30am, motion sensor cameras alerted a farming family in the Naul region of north county Dublin to thieves entering their farmyard.

The family reacted quickly, and travelled from their homes in three separate vehicles, catching a number of men in the yard. They caught one of the men red-handed, attempting to make his escape from the rear window of a tractor.

The family held the man in the yard until the gardaí arrived 15 minutes later. The Lithuanian national appeared in court on Monday, 1 July, and pleaded guilty to burglary under Section 12 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.

According to local gardaí, the man came into the country in recent days and will be held in custody until Friday, 5 July, when he will be entitled to apply for bail before sentencing.

The arrest comes following a weekend crime spree in which at least six farmers and contractors and two machinery dealerships were targeted by unidentified thieves who stole almost €100,000 worth of GPS guidance equipment on Friday and Saturday night, 29-30 June.

The thefts took place in the Wexford and north county Dublin areas, and were concentrated within a 10km radius in each county.

In the weekend spree, John Deere, New Holland and Case IH tractors were hit, with John Deere and Trimble receivers and screens stolen. Again, the thieves only seemed to be interested in high value GPS, leaving older systems, implement screens and control boxes untouched.

The two dealerships targeted were Paddy Lacey Tractors in Co Wexford and New Holland dealership Armstrong Machinery Ltd. An estimated €49,000 worth of equipment was stolen from Laceys, while around €7,000 worth of kit was taken from Armstrongs.

One tillage farmer in the Enniscorthy area had €25,000 worth of kit stolen from his well secured yard overnight on Friday.

The farmer in question said: “We need manufacturers to do more for the farmers. We remove all the receivers from the roof, but the tractor screens are far too easy to steal.”

The thieves were armed with the correct tools to open various bolt heads, and clearly knew their way around the tractors. Similar to what happened in Ireland in February, the trend shows that the thefts are clearly planned and executed with precision. Multiple farms and premises within a close proximity are hit on the same night, with the thieves disappearing into thin air.

Previous thefts

As reported by the Irish Farmers Journal in February, an estimated €250,000 worth of GPS equipment was stolen from Irish farmers, contractors and dealerships in a 10-day window.

In 2021, 80 GPS units stolen from across Europe were seized from a Lithuanian criminal gang by British police. A separate stolen Irish unit resurfaced for sale on a Mexican classified site, while a John Deere dealer in America traced Irish-registered serial numbers off GPS units to tractors in the States.

Check your insurance

Dealers are strongly advising farmers and contractors using GPS technology to be extra vigilant. Machines should be securely parked and GPS equipment removed after use and brought home, where possible. Farmers should check their insurance covers their GPS equipment.

At least six farmers and contractors and two machinery dealerships were targeted by thieves who stole almost €100,000 worth of GPS guidance equipment.