Thieves target farmers’ costly all terrain vehicles

Determined rural thieves are targeting expensive all terrain vehicles used by farmers to tend to livestock during the lambing season, according to a leading rural insurer.

Utility terrain vehicle
Utility terrain vehicle

Theft claims data for 2020 released this week by insurers NFU Mutual have revealed that while the number of quads stolen fell in 2020, thieves were increasingly targeting more expensive, higher specification models.

Farm thieves were also focusing on side-by-side utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) which are bigger and can seat two and which have a load space at the back These vehicles, which can cost two or three times as much as a quad now represent 14% of all ATV thefts, compared to 11% in 2019.

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The insurers said that in order to help farmers protect their quads from increasingly sophisticated thieves, it was providing updated security advice:

“Quad bikes are a vital tool on modern livestock farms. During harsh, cold months and at lambing times farmers face a massive struggle to keep their sheep fed and safe if thieves strike and leave them without a quad at the busiest time of year,” said the Mutual’s Bob Henderson.

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“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. However, their light weight makes them easier to steal than heavier equipment such as tractors.

Henderson said that a common tactic amongst gangs was to return to a farm a few weeks after they had stolen one of these vehicles – with the intention of making off with the new replacement.

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He said that this had led the Mutual to work with manufacturers to fit trackers and immobilisers to new vehicles:

“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.

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“We also want to help keep farmers - who often work alone - safe. The immobiliser systems have smart technology which can raise the alarm if a machine has been impacted or rolled over,” added Henderson.

Welcoming the scheme, Police Scotland’s Inspector Alan Dron, who co-ordinates the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) said that quad bikes and ATVs remained key targets for criminals:

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“Therefore it is vital those who rely so heavily on their machine such as crofters, farmers and land managers take steps to prevent it being a target.”

He said where possible farmers should use several layers of security such as marking with a police-approved property marking system, ensuring keys were locked away or kept in the owners possession - and when vehicles were not in use the said they should be kept out of sight, blocked in or secured within a locked building:

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“The most important thing to do is have a tracker and immobiliser fitted to the quad or ATV as, if it is unfortunately stolen, when activated this gives Police a genuine opportunity to locate and recover it which is why SPARC really welcomes this new initiative from NFU Mutual.”

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