29 January 1999

Dont let em

nab your quad too easily…

The war on rural theft continues. We start our special

feature with a look at methods of protecting one of the

thiefs most popular targets – the ATV

ATVs are 10 times more likely to be stolen than a tractor, states NFU Mutual. In 1997, the company calculates that £1.2m-worth of quads were stolen from UK farms.

Relatively small and lightweight, an unlocked or unprotected quad is an easy target for thieves who merely lift them into the back of a van or pick-up. Without having the security advantages of a cab, easy access to the ignition system and controls allows the opportunity to "hot wire" such machines.

It is more often the case, though, that stolen ATVs are simply started up and driven away using keys left in the ignition or removed from the obvious under the seat hideaway. And because quads are often used in remote rural environments, it is easy to become complacent about the risk of theft.

One thing is for sure – quads are popular targets – and NFU Mutual urges owners to be security conscious and exercise adequate and effective protection.

At its simplest level, this involves storing ATVs in a locked shed with secure doors whenever possible – "out of sight, out of mind", is the obvious adage to remember. As an incentive, NFU Mutual offers to reduce the £250 theft excess for quads which are locked away securely at night. And however inconvenient it may be, remember to remove that ignition key.

Few manufacturers include security devices with their machines, citing cost as the main reason. Kawasaki and Suzuki quads, however, do have an anti-hot wire device designed to render the ignition system inoperative should this method of by-passing the key be attempted.

Apart from preventing the quad from being driven off, enquiries to dealers and suppliers relating to ignition repairs or replacement ignition components should immediately raise suspicions as to the ownership of the quad.

This, however, is but a rather subliminal security measure intended to deter those who know of its existence. Alarms provide more obvious deterrence and a means of warning owners that their quad is being tampered with.

The Driveway Intruder Alarm from Sutcliffe Electronics uses an active infra red beam which, providing the ATV is within 100m-200m (333ft-666ft) of the property, activates an alarm sited in the farm house or some other convenient location. Priced at £122, it can be used to "guard" other mobile equipment and property.

A similar system, this time using a detector mounted on the ATV handle bars, is available from Martley Electronics, priced at £149.

While security alarms only act as deterrents, concealed microchip or microfilm identification systems can do the same (as long as their presence is clearly advertised) while also giving some hope of recovering quads which are stolen.

NPR Datatag Division offers a microchip tagging system which can be installed by the quad dealer or by the owner. At £40, it comprises a number of microchips concealed in the quad chassis and other components.

Each chip carries an electronic record of the owners details held on a computer database. Police and other authorities equipped with appropriate scanners can read the information and check ownership.

Alpha-Dot works on the same principle, except that the unique six-figure identification code is recorded in minute digits on tiny micro dots stuck on to parts of the quad (or any other vehicle, for that matter) using adhesive lacquer.

Alpha Scientific supplies a file of 1000 micro dots and suggests applying up to 100 or so on various parts so that even quads scavenged for spares can be identified.

For something that physically protects quads from theft, owners must turn to one of a number of clamping devices.

Logics Talon Clamp comprises an arm with one end padlocked to the quad wheel hub and the other to an anchor bolt set in the ground. Priced at £185, this device also provides some protection against opportunist theft of quads out in the field.

Farmer Howard Berry produces a clamping device which is secured to the ground using five heavy duty rawl bolts and then clamps over the quads ball hitch. Similarly simple but presumably effective is the large diameter hardened chains from Luke Trailers and Raleigh Hall Engineering. These can be threaded around the quad frame and a secure post; or to Lukes anchor which is set firmly into the ground.

Both are claimed to resist the attentions of bolt croppers, hacksaws and crow bars sufficiently to put-off all but the most determined thief.

Wheel clamps may be every motorists nightmare but such devices designed to fit snugly around the wheel of a quad should help owners sleep more peacefully.

The Quad Safe from Unit Pack Security Systems, and the Wyvern ATV Wheel Clamp, are priced at £320 and £195, respectively. The main difference from car wheel clamps is that the quad versions must be fastened to the ground to prevent the bike from being lifted away, clamp and all.

Another device aimed at rooting ATVs to the spot, is the £295 ATV Gripper produced by Agri Quad. This uses two thick steel arms secured at one end into a base set in concrete, the curved free ends are then fastened over the quads rear axle.

QUADSECURITYDEVICES

&#8226 Agri-Quad (01788-832300): The ATV Gripper which fits to the rear axle, £295*.

&#8226 Alpha Scientific (01727-875959): A file of 1000 Alpha-Dot micro dots, each carrying a code number, which are painted onto parts all over the quad, £12-£14**.

&#8226 Howard Berry (01200-445296): Bolt-down tow bar clamp with lock, £215*.

&#8226 Logic (01434-606661): Talon Clamp lockable security clamp, £185; lock anti-theft cable, £55*.

&#8226 Luke Trailers (01538-304275): Luke Lock high tensile chain and lock secured in concrete block, £100*.

&#8226 Martley Electronics (01905-621313): Radio alarm with remote alert receiver, £179 for detector unit plus £149 per receiver.

&#8226 NPR Datatag Division (01482-222070): Set of Datatag transponders coded with ownership details for secreting into the ATV, £39.99*.

&#8226 Raleigh Hall Engineering (01785-851658): Heavy duty chain, £80 for lock plus £20/m*.

&#8226 Sutcliffe Electronics (01233-634191): Driveway Intruder Alarm – infra-red beam activated alarm system, £122

&#8226 Unit Pack Security Systems (01703-407070): Quad Safe ATV security wheel clamp, £320*.

&#8226 Wyvern All Terrain (01905-371278): ATV Wheel Clamp lockable wheel clamp, £195*.

&#8226 ATV owners insured with the NFU Mutual qualify for premium discounts of 10% if they use the devices marked * in this listing, 5% for those marked **. The Talon Clamp, ATV Gripper and hardened chain from Raleigh Hall Engineering are included on the Home Office Sold Secure register of security devices that have successfully undergone attack-resistance tests.