The latest figures from NFU Mutual have determined that rural thieves are targeting expensive quad bikes used by farmers to tend to livestock during the lambing season, with warning that this type of theft is likely to increase as lockdown eases.
The rural insurer said that while the number of quads stolen fell in 2020, thieves are increasingly targeting more expensive, higher specification models
“Rural thieves target quads and other farm all-terrain vehicles because they’re expensive kit with a ready resale market in this country and abroad,” said Bob Henderson, Technical Engineering Manager at NFU Mutual.
“We know that thieves often return to a farm where they have stolen a quad in the hope of being able to steal its new replacement.”
In May 2020, Richard Willcox, who runs a 220-acre livestock farm near Highbridge in Somerset,had a quad bike stolen, almost exactly a year to the day from when one was stolen in broad daylight in May 2019.
“I have my suspicions that it was the same gang that returned this year,” said Mr Wilcox. “The quad is such a vital piece of kit that they must have known that I would replace it.
“Since the second theft, I have invested in a steel roller shutter on the workshop and a motion sensor inside that alerts us at the house to any movement at night. The new quad also has a tracker installed.
To help members who have been the victim of quad theft to get up and running again, NFU Mutual is covering the cost of the tracker and immobiliser installation and the first year’s subscription. Immobiliser systems have smart technology which can raise the alarm if a machine has been impacted or rolled over.
Mr Henderson pointed out that while many types of rural theft had fallen during COVID restrictions the overall cost of agricultural vehicle and machinery theft remained high, as thieves were getting more ‘bang for their buck’ by targeting high-value portable items such as quads and tractor GPS systems.
To protect quads and other ATVs from thieves, NFU Mutual and the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service is provided the following advice:
- Always remove keys and keep them stored securely, away from the vehicle
- When not in use, keep quads and all-terrain-vehicles locked up 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. You can also set working hours and Geofences to alert you if a machine is being moved outside of a pre-set working area.
- Use 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 – these devices are both visible and physical deterrents to thieves
- 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