Shocking figures reveal North Yorkshire Police called twice a week over quad bike thefts

Police in North Yorkshire were called twice a week to reports of quad bikes being stolen last year, figures have revealed.

Quad bike theft occurs on a regular basis in North Yorkshire and can devastate farmers financially

Quad bike theft occurs regularly in the county where criminals target farmers and landowners, resulting in huge and often devastating financial losses.

One community member described the theft of the bikes as "like losing an arm or a leg" for farmers.

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North Yorkshire Police figures obtained by The Yorkshire Post show the force recorded 103 thefts, or attempted thefts, of quad bikes between April 2019 and 2020.

Rural police officers in North Yorkshire have set up WhatsApp groups to communicate with residents, which has helped to counter the issue of quad bike theft

Craven was the worst hit district, with 31 reported offences, followed by Harrogate where there were 14 thefts and Scarborough with 13.

Both the York and Selby districts had the fewest offences - zero and two, respectively - indicating that criminals are specifically targeting more rural areas.

In many cases, it is thought thieves travel from towns and cities to rural areas to steal the bikes, which can be worth thousands, before selling them on or using them for their own leisure purposes.

In past cases, stolen bikes have been found dumped in Leeds while people have been arrested in locations such as Liverpool and Teesside in connection with thefts reported in North Yorkshire.

Quad bike theft occurs on a regular basis in North Yorkshire and can devastate farmers financially

Last week, two males from Hartlepool were arrested after quad bikes were stolen from a farm near Northallerton in the early hours of Monday morning.

The males, aged 17 and 24, were questioned after a vigilant farmer spotted suspicious activity on his land and followed two people into a field while a family member raised the alarm. Both have been bailed by the police on the condition of not entering the county other than to answer bail.

Inspector Matt Hagen, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “Unfortunately, quad bikes in remote, rural areas are often targeted by thieves.

“Quite apart from its monetary value, the loss of a quad can have a significant impact on a farm or other rural business – particularly in these difficult times, when farmers really cannot afford any further disruption."

Communities in rural North Yorkshire are now working with the police to counter the issue, with the creation of more than 30 WhatsApp groups for each district for residents and officers to exchange tip offs about thefts and other low-level crime.

In March this year, a man was detained by local residents after one witness in Burnsall, near Bolton Abbey, saw a suspected stolen quad bike being ridden through the village. Residents used the rural watch WhatsApp group to help track the suspect down and detain him before the police arrived.

A spokeswoman for Upper Wharfedale Rural Watch, which helped detain the suspect in the Burnsall case, said: "In our area, we've managed to stop a lot of thefts through our WhatsApp group and work with the police, but that means criminals are now moving away and targeting other areas in the county.

"Working in the farming industry, this crime can interfere with your entire life. It's like losing an arm really – you need quad bikes to do your job."

NFU regional director Adam Bedford said: “These figures are quite shocking and reading them, it’s no wonder that rural crime is one of the issues our members raise with us most frequently.

“The theft of quad bikes is something that has a particular impact on farmers as these days they are the real workhorses on farms, particularly livestock farms where farmers need to be able to easily navigate difficult terrain to check on their animals, move fodder around or move animals that may need help.

“So it is easy to see that their loss is not just an inconvenience but could easily make it harder for farmers to care for their animals in the way they normally would. While we advise our members to do everything possible to deter would be thieves, it’s also important for all rural residents to be vigilant and report to the police anything suspicious.”