The rise in reported thefts of farm ATVs shows no signs of abating, with recent NFU stats revealing that 284 machines were stolen in the first six months of this year, up by 53 units on the same period last year.
“There has been a concerted push by not just criminals but organised gangs who don’t have barriers and will happily take barn panels down to gain access to your possessions,” says Tim Price, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual.
“As a minimum requirement, quads should be stored out of sight and preferably in a locked shed but even that is often failing to prove enough of a deterrent.”
Many farmers now feel they have to go the extra mile to protect their machines and there are stacks of different options on the market, from basic lock-and-chain set-ups to fancy alarms and tracking devices.
We’ve gathered a few of the contraptions below. Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list – there are plenty more items out there and if you shop around you could find cheaper alternatives – but should give an idea of the sort of equipment available.
See also: Ultimate guide to farm security kit
An age-old method and one of the simplest and cheapest ways to secure your bike, usually combined with a mount, either bolted to the wall or concreted into the barn floor.
Parking the bike over the floor mount and attaching the chain via the shortest route possible means access is difficult and the chain is hidden from initial view.
Almax Immobiliser IV with Squire SS65 lock and Defiant ground anchor
Almax reckons its Immobiliser range with 19mm hardened boron steel shackles can’t be bolt-cropped, hacksawed, sledge-hammered or frozen off.
Sitting at the higher end of the chain-link price range, the kit comes with Squire’s flagship lock that has the best European security rating and uses a 12.7mm closed shackle that leaves a very limited entry point for bars.
The Thatcham security-approved chain has solid steel closed shackle protection and comes in three lengths. A 2.5m section costs a healthy £314.90, the mid-ranging 2m is £284.90, while the smaller 1.5m version is £254.90.
Luma armoured Escudo 38
Coming in a smidge over the £50 mark is a chain and lock with a black and grey protective sleeve.
Sold by Quad Bike Wales, the 3mm hardened steel case protects the lock, while the 10mm hardened square steel chain has enough bulk to be a nuisance.
It can be combined with a motion-activated alarm similar to the BikeTec one featured below for £21.95.
Although maybe not as robust as the Almax, it doesn’t have the same wallet-smashing cost either.
As machine values soar, these devices are becoming a must-have security tool.
The small units are usually wired to the battery and tucked away out of sight.
They can provide various levels of tracking cover, from basic tracking with no movement notifications to a fully programmable geofence around the vehicle.
If the vehicle crosses the virtual boundary (typically 50m from the farm) it will send alerts to the owner, who can then follow the course of the machine as it moves.
Skytag is a computer-mouse-sized box stashed discreetly on the bike and connected by two wires to an onboard battery.
The simple unit has three flashing lights to indicate a lost connection, low battery or whether it’s fully operational, and owners are sent monthly emails notifying them of any issues.
There are three grades of cover. Paying £6.99/month gets you standard tracking with alerts for low power and lost connection. If you see the vehicle every day, this is probably the best option.
Stumping up £10.99/month gets you the benefits of the service package and includes a 50m geofence around your vehicle’s location, along with automatic phone calls to pre-arranged devices should the vehicle leave the set area.
See also: Seven GPS trackers on test
The final option is live tracking with an internet login area to monitor the vehicle’s location. It updates every 5min and costs £12.99/month.
The monthly fees don’t cover the cost of the device, which is another £249. The company says there are other benefits of fitting a tracking device, including keeping tabs on colleagues who spend a lot of time lone working.
Visionaire offers a similar service to Skytag, with a one-off purchase cost of £299 and a cheaper ongoing cost of £6/month (£72 for the whole year). The kit is distributed and supported in the UK by Carrotech.
Included in this price is access to the web software, email alerts and a geofence.
Users will receive a message if there’s a low battery or the power is disconnected, and they can also monitor vehicle information such as speed, location and driver behaviour. The information is recorded and stored for 12 months.
The system can be fitted on-farm but the company recommends using one of its approved list of installers.
ATVTrac has adapted the kit designed for live motorbike tracking to monitor farm ATVs.
It’s a pretty sophisticated system, so can only be installed by an approved dealer to make sure it meets Thatcham security standards.
The Thatcham 6 and 7-approved device has a built-in 30-day reserve battery, so doesn’t rely solely on the machine’s supply, and will send a text message to the owner when the voltage drops below a pre-set level.
Once installed, the system needs to be registered online and from here you can see a real-time location of the vehicle along with battery level and journey history. There is also a 24/7 call centre in case of theft or problems.
Tracking via radio frequencies means vehicles can be followed, even in covered places, such as inside shipping containers, vans or garages.
Parting with £399 gets you the device and a year’s subscription which includes 24/7 monitoring, althought fitting isn’t included. £9.99/month after the first year keeps you covered, with discount available for buying three years cover in one hit.
NFU Mutual insurance customers can get a 12.5% discount on the device cost.
One useful defence is data tagging. It uses an invisible coded gel that links the vehicle to a police database and is standard on new ATVs from the likes of Suzuki and Polaris.
The Cesar scheme has proven to be a strong deterrent to would-be thieves and is six times more successful in tracking down stolen machinery compared with items without the triangular sticker.
There are a variety of ways to tag your vehicle, including invisible dots scattered over the bike, identification plates that are clearly visible or a glass tag responder the size of a rice grain that can be installed anywhere on the machine.
All of these methods link back to the database and give the police the power to track the vehicle down once it has vanished.
Fitting a tag to an aftermarket machine is about £150 with discounts for multiple vehicles and there are no annual or monthly fees.
Data Tool provides a wide range of security tools from trackers to immobilisers and offers a simpler DIY-style tagging system for smaller equipment, starting at about £60.
Once applied to an out-of-sight area on the quad, these gel tags are almost invisible to the naked eye and would require the thief to remove every last molecule of the gel from the bike for it to become untraceable.
With no damage to the paintwork, the tags are Thatcham approved, so may help reduce insurance premiums, too.
Each tag carries its own unique code, which is registered to the owner. These details are stored by the police and Datatag home office for quick access.
Either motion or proximity activated, audible alarms are one of the simplest and most effective way to protect your belongings.
For the reasonable sum of £21.95 you can have a fairly basic motion-activated alarm system, sold by Quad Bike Wales.
Very much a do-it-yourself job, it has two leads that connect straight onto the battery and then it’s your call where to site the alarm box on the vehicle. It will belt out a 125db noise when the bike is moved.
There’s a key fob for activating/deactivating the alarm, while the sensor module and siren are weatherproofed, so there’s no need to remove it every time it leaves the building.
Infrared sensors can be overlooked when it comes to protecting vehicles.
However, if there are a number of smaller items in the same shed, hooking this system up to some floodlights and booming alarm system could be a cheaper way than alarming them all individually.
Providing a 6m zone around a vehicle or doorway, Xena’s British-built system uses a 135db hooter that sounds as soon as movement is detected.
It is designed to be mounted on a nearby wall and beams an invisible line across the room. Arming the system is done from a small remote fob and provides a 15sec window to lock up the building before it goes live.
The siren only sounds for 30sec before being reset and it’s available online for about £24.
Frames and cages
Locking bikes in a cage or protecting them with a fold-down frame provides an extra layer of security and can be arranged for a fairly modest price.
Sold by Marsh MX, the drive-on platform has rollers that locate under the rear wheels – a dab of throttle turns the wheels, which winds the side clamps onto the centre of the wheels.
The bike and platform are then locked together – the only way to separate them is by starting the bike to reverse the back wheels and loosen the clamps.
Locking the ramps up is the final part of the process and takes less than 1min, the company says. The asking price is £1,599, with next day delivery thrown in.
Made in the UK by Arenamate, the hardened steel frame forms a protective shell, with steel hugging the bike from the back rack to deep in the foot well on each side.
Two heavy-duty van locks clamp the frame together, while the base of the Quad Safe is bolted or concreted to the floor on each corner. The cost is £399 and includes delivery and set-up.
Thatcham security rating
Now an industry benchmark, Thatcham launched the New Vehicle Security Assessment in the early 1990s in response to rising vehicle thefts.
It rates all security systems on vehicles from alarms to immobilisers, with a main goal of reducing insurance claims, while maintaining safety standards.