Thieves are targeting hi-spec quad bikes – with more of the desirable 4×4 ATVs expected to go missing as lockdown restrictions ease.
Although the number of machines stolen fell last year, NFU Mutual says thieves are increasingly targeting larger and more expensive off-road models. The rural insurer has launched a free tracker and immobiliser scheme to catch return thieves.
These machines, which often seat two people side-by side and have a load space at the back now represent 14% of all quad and ATV thefts, compared to 11% in 2019. They can cost two or three times as much as a quad bike.
To help farmers protect their quads from increasingly sophisticated thieves, NFU Mutual is providing updated security advice for ATVs, described by technical engineering manager Bob Henderson as a vital tool on modern farms.
“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.’
NFU Mutual is also launching a pilot scheme with manufacturers starting with Yamaha and Honda to provide customers with free tracking and immobilisation equipment on vehicles bought to replace stolen quads and ATVS – following a paid claim.
Thieves often return to a farm where they have stolen a quad in the hope of being able to steal its new replacement, says Mr Henderson. The scheme will see Datatool install free tracking devices and immobilisers to protect customers from repeat crime.
“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.”
NFU Mutual is covering the cost of the tracker and immobiliser installation and the first year’s subscription. The insurer is also looking to install trackers and immobilisers on other brands if they meet the required standard and fitting cost.
While many types of rural theft have fallen during lockdown, the overall cost of agricultural vehicle and machinery theft remains high. One reason is that thieves are getting more bang for their buck by targeting high-value portable items.
Thefts from farms and rural properties are expected to surge as lockdown eases. News of the scheme has been welcomed by detective constable Chris Piggott, of the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service.
“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.”
To help farmers cover the costs of fitting security devices to their equipment, NFU Mutual already offers insurance discounts for a range of devices from mechanical measures, CESAR marking, electronic tracking to immobilisers.
To protect quads and other ATVs from thieves, NFU Mutual and the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service have issued 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 – and message you if your machine is being tampered with.
- Set an automated Geofence or working hours alert in case your machine is moved outside a pre-set working area or time
- 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.
- 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