A spate of quadbike thefts in the last week has almost doubled the number of these machines reported as stolen on the Farmers Weekly Crime Register.
A total of 25 quads went missing, compared with 13 the previous week, confirming their popularity among opportunist thieves in the countryside, said intelligence researcher Ben Hewing from the Plant and Agricultural National Intelligence Unit.
“They are easy to transport and have a ready market, both at home and abroad, where crooks are making the most of the weak pound.”
There was no particular pattern to the thefts, he said. “Seventeen quads were Hondas, four of which were stolen from one property in Northumberland. The other thefts occurred across the country.”
Eight tractors were also stolen during the week, including a 2010 John Deere 6230 worth at least £35,000, which disappeared from a farm in Gloucestershire on the night of 21/22 June.
“Some tractors do stay in the country, often taken shortly before an auction,” say Mr Hewing. “But a lot are going abroad, especially to hotspots like Eastern Europe.”
Six telehandlers are also likely to head to similar homes, including a JCB 531-70 that vanished from a Hampshire farmyard on 22/23 June.
However, the chance of stolen exports being recovered is improving, according to rural insurer NFU Mutual, which has been sponsoring a tractor security operation.
“The big problem is there has been very little information to help identify tractors going through the ports and on to Eastern Europe and beyond,” said company spokesman Tim Price.
Improved security and better co-ordination between police forces had helped. So had increased awareness of theft, and he believed the arrival of the Farmers Weekly Crime Register, which provides up-to-date information about farm crime across the UK, would help drive recovery figures higher.
Two stolen John Deere tractors had been repatriated recently from Poland and a further 14 machines, including nine discovered in Cyprus, were expected to be returned in the next month, said Mr Price.
“Thefts of tractors from UK farms reached record levels in 2010. But there are signs that improved security and communication with customs officers and international police are now proving effective in reducing international tractor crime.”