WHEN Simon Clark’s two specialist quads with snow tracks were stolen during seven weeks of appalling winter weather early in 2021, their absence put his 1500 ewes at very real risk.

“Quads are vital to farm these hills,” said Mr Clark. “The weather here is very unpredictable, and even when no snow is forecast, we can get a sudden storm which leaves a foot of snow. We keep two tracked quads on standby through the winter so we can get to the sheep and dig them out of drifts if necessary.

“When the thieves struck, NFU Mutual and our quad dealership, Frank Gibson in Yetholm, really pulled the stops out so the claim was sorted, with a replacement quad located, and snow tracks flown in from Canada within five days," he reported.

“Because of Covid, there’s been a shortage of both new and second-hand quads on the market, so it was a great achievement to have the specialist quad we needed on our farm so quickly.”

However, despite it being kept at a different location from the original machines, thieves struck again within weeks and cut security chains, stealing both the replacement machine and another quad. But the replacement quad had been fitted with a tracking system, and as soon as the quads were moved, the tracking device alarm pinged on Mr Clark’s phone and led police to woods where the quads had been left hidden by the thieves.

“The technology is very impressive,” he said. “We had already been considering fitting trackers to make it safer for us when we are working on the hills alone as well as for security, and this showed how well they work.

“We’re in a very remote location and had never had anything stolen from the farm until the quad thieves struck. Thankfully I wasn’t around when the quads were stolen because I would have been tempted to give chase – and there’s no knowing how that would have ended."

To help stem the tide of quad thefts from farms, NFU Mutual has launched a pilot security scheme to provide free tracking systems on quads supplied to farms following a theft.

“Criminals often return to a farm a few weeks after a quad theft in the hope of stealing the replacement machine,” said NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist, Rebecca Davidson. “We believe this initiative will not only protect farmers’ quads, but also help police catch the criminal gangs responsible.”