RURAL THIEVES are targeting higher specification quads, prompting the launch of new tracker and immobilisation initiatives.

Although the number of quads stolen in 2020 fell, NFU Mutual reported that more large off-road vehicles were taken, which can cost two or three times as much as a quad bike. These vehicles now represent 14% of all quad and ATV thefts, compared to 11% in 2019.

To help farmers protect their quads from increasingly sophisticated thieves, the insurer has launched 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.

Technical engineering manager at NFU Mutual, Bob Henderson, said: “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.

“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."

He pointed out that rural thieves often return to a previous crime scene in the hope of stealing the replacement. The pilot scheme is therefore predominantly aimed at targeting repeat crime.

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

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. The insurer is also looking to install trackers and immobilisers on other brands if they meet the required standard and fitting cost.

Whilst many types of rural theft have fallen during lockdown, the overall cost of agricultural vehicle and machinery theft remained high, as thieves were getting more ‘bang for their buck’ by targeting high-value portable items such as quads and tractor GPS systems.

The insurer has raised concerns that lockdown easing could see a surge in thefts from farms and other rural properties as thieves become more active again.

Police Scotland’s Inspector Alan Dron, who co-ordinates the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, advised: “ Where possible use several layers of security such as marking it with a police-approved property marking system, ensure keys are locked away or always in your possession and when not in use keep out of sight, blocked in or secured within a locked building.

"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.”

More advice on farm vehicle security and details of security premium discounts is available online at