A STAGGERING 104 quad bikes have been stolen from farms in a year-long rural crime spree in Cumbria.

Twenty-seven of these thefts took place in a single month alone.

Cumbria police say they are continuing to see a high number of quad bike thefts, and when other farming machinery is included in the figures, a worrying picture emerges.

Going into the winter months, Cumbria Constabulary, the National Farmers Union and Carlisle-based Carrs Billington fear rural thieves could target more farms and have urged farmers to increase security.With this in mind they have jointly launched a ‘Lock it or Lose it’ campaign.

Superintendent Carl Patrick, force lead for rural and wildlife affairs, said: “We have recently seen an increased number of thefts within the rural community, specifically quad bikes. This type of crime disrupts our communities and adversely affects the local economy.

“As well as reporting incidents such as a suspicious vehicles or persons, it’s important that simple and basic steps are taken to protect your property such as ensuring outbuildings are locked and that tools and machinery are kept out of sight.

“Installing tracking devices to property is also a great security measure and can help significantly in an investigation to locate the property. Markings or data tags are also really helpful so we can identify who the items belong to if found.

“We have PCSOs specially trained to undertake crime prevention surveys in rural locations.

“Farmers should book a survey now via 101, or e-mailing 101@cumbria.police.uk. The officers will assess the farm and perhaps provide some free crime prevention tools such as property marking equipment kindly provided by the Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall.”

NFU Cumbria County Chairman Ian Bowness, who farms at Threapland Lees in Wigton, says now is the time for farmers to do everything in their power to help themselves and the police.

“Via the campaign the NFU will re-emphasise to the Cumbrian farming community the importance of protecting their premises and property,” he said. “The Rural Crime Hub on nfuonline.com has a wealth of free advice.”

“Every member in Cumbria will soon receive a flyer to inform them about a range of crime prevention equipment affinity deals and discounts which could save them money at point of purchase whilst also possibly lowering insurance premiums for some. I’m delighted local dealership Carrs Billington is supporting our campaign and look forward to working with them on some projects in the coming months.”