Farmers have been advised to beef up security to deter rural thieves looking to cash in as a shortage in new and second-hand farm machinery has fuelled a spike in quad thefts from UK farms.
Global supply chain problems, shipping delays and the impact of Covid and Brexit have contributed to waiting lists for new quads and increased demand for second-hand kit, says NFU Mutual.
Almost half the quad and ATV thefts reported to the rural insurer in 2021 took place from September to December.
According to the latest claims data, the most targeted counties in the UK for quad bike theft last year were Cumbria, followed by Kent, West Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire.
Over the past few weeks, Scotland has been the latest part of the UK to suffer a spate of thefts.
DC Chris Piggott, agricultural vehicle lead for the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS), said the reported supply shortages mean criminals are cashing in on a “ready-made illicit market”.
DC Piggott urged farmers to check the source of second-hand quad bikes they are buying and have security set up properly.
“After removal of keys, trackers and immobilisers are the most effective measures against quad theft, acting as both a deterrent and also increasing the chance of police recovering the vehicle and catching the people behind these crimes,” he said.
NFU Mutual is working with manufacturers Honda and Yamaha to provide customers with free tracking and immobilisation equipment on vehicles bought to replace stolen quads and ATVs, following a paid claim.
The insurer is also looking to install trackers and immobilisers on other brands if they meet the required standard and fitting cost.
‘Slicker, more prolific’
Bob Henderson, from the agricultural engineering team at NFU Mutual, said: “The thieves behind this latest surge in quad thefts are slicker, more determined and more prolific than before.
“We cannot emphasise enough the importance of removing keys from machines and securing your quad when it’s not in use.
“Quads are absolutely vital to livestock farmers, particularly as we get into peak lambing season, and the thefts we are seeing are hitting farmers twice as hard because of the difficulties getting replacement kit.”
Protect your machinery
- Remove keys and keep them stored securely, away from the vehicle
- When not in use, keep quads and ATVs locked up and out of sight
- Install tracking devices and immobilisers to make it easier for police to recover stolen vehicles – most modern tracking devices are GPS enabled, with alarms/alerts that will send a message informing you if your machine is being tampered with
- Use Construction Equipment Security and Registration Scheme (Cesar) marking to deter thieves and enable police to identify stolen machinery
- Target-harden your quad by creating a security cage or use a mechanical device such as steering brake/lock, ground anchor or wheel clamp when not in use
- Know what you own – keep records of serial numbers and photographs of your kit, including unique identifying features
- When buying a new quad, insist on a chipped key and immobilisation system
Source: NFU Mutual and National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service