RURAL businesses and farmers are being urged to check that their property and vehicles are secure during the festive period.

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, says quad bikes and agricultural equipment are key targets for criminals to sell on to unsuspecting buyers or organised crime gangs.

In 2020, 65 quad bikes were stolen in Cumbria, 118 pieces of agricultural equipment were stolen, and 116 crimes were recorded of livestock theft with 1,476 animals being stolen.

Cumbria’s National Farmers Union launched a ‘Lock it or Lose it’ campaign in November, partnering with police to tackle quad bike and agricultural equipment theft.

It urged farmers to improve security at their farms to discourage criminals.

PCC Peter McCall, said: “We know criminals will and do travel into our rural communities to steal from our local businesses and farmers.

“We can all play a part to help deter this criminality and by helping the police to bring these criminals to justice.

“Quad bikes are a key target for these criminals which is why we are asking rural businesses to constantly review their own security measures; check that all their equipment is locked away in a secure building, that keys are kept separate and that some form of security marker or trackers are used."

If you have been a victim of theft, report it to police on 101 or 999 in an emergency. The force has recently seen an increased number of thefts within the rural community, specifically quad bikes.

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 within 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.”