FARMERS in the area are being urged to review their security as rural thefts rise.

Farm vehicles such as Land Rover Defenders and quad bikes are among the top targets of the thieves, new figures show.

Rural insurer NFU Mutual says latest data indicates criminals are returning to the countryside following a dip in the stats during the pandemic.

According to the company, last year rural theft across West Yorkshire cost £930,000 – down by 18 per cent compared to 2020.

But claims indications from the first quarter of this year show a rise, both regionally and nationally. UK-wide, there was a surge of over 40 per cent.

Areas badly hit, by quad bike thefts in particular, included the Worth Valley.

West Yorkshire Police said that in the two months up to early February, there were five reports of quad bikes – and motorcycles – being stolen in the area.

Police patrols were stepped up.

NFU Mutual says record prices for diesel and heating oil have also led to a surge in fuel theft, with claims more than doubling in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2021.

Spokesperson Rob Nobles said: "Our latest claims figures warn that rural theft is quickly gathering momentum as criminals make up for time lost over the past two pandemic years.

"We’re advising rural people to review their security.

"With prices of essential farm equipment such as tractors and quads rising fast and the cost of diesel soaring over the past year, there’s little doubt that criminals will be trying to steal from farms.

"We also know that essentials of rural living like heating oil tanks will only become more attractive to thieves as costs rise.

"Crime in the countryside causes high levels of anxiety and disruption, with many farmers and rural homeowners feeling vulnerable due to their isolated location. The knowledge that determined thieves are scouring the countryside looking for targets leads to sleepless nights for many.

"NFU Mutual is responding by helping those living and working in rural areas to put in place effective security measures and by continuing to provide major support to enable dedicated police resources to tackle crime."

To help protect quads, people are encouraged to keep them locked-up out of sight when not in use, always remove keys and store them away securely, fit visible security mechanisms and install tracking devices and immobilisers.