Is anyone aware of the recent national day of action against rural crime?
In our part of the world, Northumbria Police announced that it would be marking the day with officers “out in force on a dedicated operation”. It had a codename and everything: “Checkpoint”.
It was just a pity that the day of action did not coincide with the theft of our quad bike, which happened a few days beforehand.
See also: How to thief-proof your quad bike
In broad daylight
It was a brass-necked theft, conducted in broad daylight. Someone quietly moved a herd of cows, opened the gate, pushed the quad out of the yard in front of the house and made off with it, while Jake was in for his lunch.
If we had happened to glance out of the window – as we frequently do – we would have seen the whole thing. As it was, we contacted the police immediately to report the theft.
They rang back a full 18 hours later to arrange a time to record the details. The case was opened and closed during that subsequent phone call.
There were further developments. A neighbour found the contents of a builder’s van by the side of the road, consistent with a van having been stolen and emptied to accommodate a bike.
Someone else said they had seen a suspicious van at about the right time and could give a description of the driver. We informed the police, but no one has got back to us to follow it up.
Ultimately, no one was hurt, our insurance company is going to pay up (minus the excess) and, after the initial shock, frustration and inconvenience, we will carry on.
Manufacturers should do more
Yet quad bike thefts are now so regular and widespread – even in the remotest of locations – that I can’t help but think more should be done by the manufacturers to break the business model for thieves.
Why haven’t they made keys difficult to replicate or replace without proof of ownership, or fitted tracker devices as standard?
The potential of trackers was demonstrated in the recent Channel 4 series Celebrity Hunted, a sort of large-scale hide and seek, but with the hunters comprising a team of ex-police and intelligence officers having access to all the snooping powers of the state.
You’re meant to marvel at their use of CCTV, automatic number plate recognition, vehicle telematics and monitoring of mobile telecommunications and social media. The inference is that there is no place to hide from the forces of the state.
I don’t have complete faith in this premise, and some of the flaws were rather glossed over during the episode when two fugitives visited the Northumberland village of Craster.
Both the hunted and the hunters appeared oblivious to the fact that there is no mobile signal in that area.
We know this, having enjoyed a lovely peaceful day there this summer, only to receive a barrage of increasingly desperate texts from our son looking for a lift home once we were a couple of miles down the road.
In the show, the fugitives took refuge with a local farmer and one, Dom Joly, was captured after his host used his mobile to phone out for provisions.
If only he’d tried to phone the police to report a quad bike theft. I’m sure they would have been safe for days.
Still, we’ve learnt a few hard lessons recently. Obtaining a tracker device for our next quad bike looks like a sensible option.