FARMERS are being urged to step up their security following a sharp rise in tractor and quad thefts.
Figures from rural insurer NFU Mutual show the value of tractor claims increased by 35 per cent in the two months to the end of January compared with the corresponding period last year, reversing a downward trend since the end of 2012.
Over the two months to the end of January thefts of quad bikes have also shot up and the the shock rise comes after a prolonged period of falling tractor thefts since they peaked in 2010.
It also follows a period of intense activity to improve tractor security and policing which has involved farmers, police forces throughout the UK, the Borders Agency and NFU Mutual.
Over the last two years, manufacturers have started to introduce unique keys to most tractor models, the CESAR marking system has become widespread on new tractors, as has been retro-fitting to older machines.
Clive Harris, who leads NFU Mutual’s vehicle security initiative, said: “The sudden increases in farm vehicle theft is very worrying – particularly as it comes after tractor theft fell by over 32 per cent in the first 11 months of 2012 – a fantastic result.
“High value tractors worth £25,000 or more – and particularly those with front end loaders – are the most commonly stolen tractors at present.
“Thieves are also increasingly targeting telescopic loaders, quads and utility vehicles.
“Our experience helping country people who have been victims of rural crime clearly shows that theft has an emotional and financial impact on their lives and fortunes.”
Mr Harris has also warned would-be purchasers of tractors, quads and utility vehicles to ensure sellers had proof of ownership and advised farmers who had quads stolen that thieves would often return a few weeks later to try and steal a replacement machine.