Two “calculated criminals” have been jailed for their role in a series of high value farm equipment thefts.

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

Both pleaded guilty, at an earlier court appearance, to handling stolen goods and going equipped for theft following a joint investigation by officers from North Yorkshire and Humberside police forces.

Palionis also pleaded guilty to driving with no insurance, drug driving and aggravated vehicle taking. He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Staukauskas also pleaded guilty to knowingly entering the UK in breach of deportation order. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

An investigation was launched after officers found a car that had been identified as being involved in multiple high value thefts on Saturday, September 30.

The driver of the car, Staukauskas, was arrested after a foot chase. 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.

Following a warrant at an address on Abbey Street, a van reported stolen from the Cambridgeshire area in 2022 was found to be displaying false plates. Inside the van was a GPS signal jamming device and more false plates. The keys from the stolen vehicle were found to have been hidden in a cupboard inside the address and, subsequently, Palionis was arrested.

The investigation revealed that Staukauskas had visited a storage unit and moved multiple items from his car to inside the storage container. Further GPS devices were found inside the unit.

Officer in the case Andrew Green from Humberside Police, said: “Palionis and Staukauskas are calculated criminals, who carefully planned ways to try and evade arrest and conceal their offending.

“Their crimes will have undoubtedly had an impact nationally, leaving farmers without vital equipment that they need to do their jobs.

“This was a complex case that involved work from multiple teams across the force as well as colleagues from North Yorkshire Police, and I would like to thank each, and every person involved for their efforts throughout the investigation.

“I hope this serves as a stark reminder to people that we take all reports of rural crime incredibly seriously. The theft of agricultural GPS receivers continues to be a local priority for our force and we will not tolerate anyone who thinks it is okay to target our farmers in this way.”

Inspector Mark Earnshaw, from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Task Force, added: “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.

“As part of our work on this operation we shared information and intelligence with other police forces. This particular result was down to the tenacity and attention to detail of one particular North Yorkshire Police analyst that plotted the movements of the suspect’s vehicle which resulted in the arrests and recovery of the GPS systems.

“I’m delighted to say that this member of staff has received a police commendation for their outstanding work on this operation.”

NFU Vice President David Exwood said: “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.

“The NFU has worked hard to campaign for additional resources and legislation to help the police combat rural crime and we must continue to work together on a local and national level to build a structure that will help to deter offenders. This work needs to be underpinned by solid legislation and this conviction is the step in the right direction working together to tackle rural crime for our farming community.”

If you have any information about rural crime please report it. You can do so by calling our non-emergency 101 line or anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. In an emergency, always ring 999.