West Yorkshire a target for quad bike thefts fuelled by shortage of new and second hand farm machinery

A shortage in new and second-hand farm machinery is fuelling a surge in quad theft from UK farms, rural insurer NFU Mutual has warned.

The bikes are vital equipment for farmers, particularly during lambing season.
The bikes are vital equipment for farmers, particularly during lambing season.

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.

Theft claims data has revealed that although quad theft fell initially over the pandemic, criminal gangs are “ramping up” their efforts with almost half the quad and ATV thefts reported to NFU Mutual in 2021 taking place from September to December.

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According to the statistics, West Yorkshire was one of the most targeted counties in the UK, behind Cumbria and Kent. Lincolnshire and Leicestershire have also been badly affected.

Bob Henderson, from the agricultural engineering team at NFU Mutual, said: “The thieves behind this latest surge in quad theft 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.

“Sadly, we have found that thieves will also return to a farm where they have stolen a quad in the hope of being able to steal its new replacement. That’s why we’re working on the scheme with manufacturers Honda and Yamaha with Datatool to install free tracking devices and immobilisers to protect our customers from repeat crime.”

DC Chris Piggott, agricultural vehicle lead for the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS), said the supply shortages meant criminals were “cashing in” on a “ready-made” illicit market.

He also warned buyers to be vigilant and thoroughly check what they are buying so not to “fuel theft” against a fellow farmer.

“At NaVCIS we are working with police forces across the UK to share intelligence and disrupt criminal gangs. We are urging anyone who has any information about quad theft to report it to 101 or share information anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”