• New powers to combat ATV crime
• Criminal gangs cost farmers £2.8m
• More action is needed, says NFU
New powers aim to deter the theft and resale of all-terrain vehicles and quadbikes – a racket which costs farmers £2.8m annually.
It comes after the Equipment Theft (Prevention) Bill received Royal Assent following months of work by the NFU, rural insurer NFU Mutual, the National Rural Crime Unit and other industry organisations.
The act grants the government new powers to make regulations that deter quadbike theft – such as requiring ATVs to be fitted with immobilisers and forensic markings and ensuring the owners details are registered on a database.
NFU vice president David Exwood said: “Farmers across the country will be delighted that the government and police now have wider powers to tackle increasing incidents of equipment theft.
“Quads are often one of the main things that attract criminals onto farms which often leads to further thefts. But if these new powers can deter criminals in the first instance, I hope they will drive a reduction in further instances of rural crime.”
Mr Exwood thanked Greg Smith MP, Lord Blencathra and the Home Office for working so closely with industry groups to get the bill through parliament. He added: “This legislation is a big step forward in protecting Britain’s farms.
“We now urge the government to pass secondary legislation to widen the scope of the Equipment Theft (Prevention) Act to include other agricultural equipment, especially GPS systems after the stark rise in thefts this year.”.
NFU Mutual rural crime expert Bob Henderson said: “We know the role measures such as forensic marking, registration and immobilisation play in preventing crime and we have a huge opportunity to protect farmers and tradespeople.
“The Equipment Theft Bill receiving Royal Assent comes at a time when we are seeing an increase in theft of vital equipment and machinery.”
Latest theft claims figures from rural insurer NFU Mutual show a 26% annual increase in the cost of quad theft – bringing the total value to £2.8m in 2022. A continued increase in thefts this year has prompted a warning to farmers to ramp up their security.
Quad thefts at busy times can leave farmers struggling to look after crops and livestock when they are at their most vulnerable. NFU Mutual says extra security measures should be implemented where possible.