Warning for farmers with data revealing rural thefts peak in January

Quad bikes are most at risk of being pinched.
Quad bikes are most at risk of being pinched. Photo credit: Getty

Farmers are being warned to keep a close eye on their belongings over summer, with insurance data showing rural thefts peak in January.

Most at risk of being pinched are quad bikes, with equine kit such as saddles and floats also commonly targeted, according to insurer FMG.

Federated Farmers put out a warning on its Facebook page on Tuesday, telling members to "keep an eye on your gear out there".

"January is a terrible time for rural crime," the organisation wrote.

FMG manager advice services Stephen Cantwell says theft is the leading cause of farm contents' claims.

"January appears to be the month when thieves are most active," Cantwell said. 

"Not only are the number of claims higher in January but the average value of claims is 23 percent higher."

He said thieves tend to target both properties where the owners are away on holiday and those still occupied.

For those heading off the farm for the holidays, he suggested taking a number of steps to keep belongings safe.

"If you're going away, have a trusted neighbour, friend or family member regularly check in on your property. Get them to clear your mailbox and entrances of mail, packages and junk mail. If rubbish collections are operating in your area, ask them to put your rubbish out on your collection day. This approach is a good deterrent if thieves are scouting the area," he said.

He also advised installing an automatic timer or sensor lighting around the home to ward off potential thieves.

"We also suggest using a wheel lock or clamp on your float when not using it, particularly if you're going away," he said.

Cantwell said quad bikes - particularly older ones - were a favourite among thieves.

"Our experience is that older bikes are easier to sell off, which is what makes them so attractive to steal," he said.

"Our claims' data shows that quads are often stolen when the keys are left inside. This goes for other vehicles too."

He said portable tools such as chainsaws and compressors were also frequently targeted.

In a recent Federated Farmers 'Fed Talks' podcast, Inspector Brent Register said all thefts should be reported to police.

"We certainly know that people don't report all the crime in rural areas and there's certainly various reasons for that. But what I'd say is report everything via 111 if something is happening and you can see it happening. Report it via 105 if it's something you've found the next day that's gone," he said.

"If we don't know the crimes are happening we can't draw patterns, we can't link criminals to extra crimes and that's often how we solve these things."

Police encouraged people to record the serial numbers of their belongings on the snap.org.nz website to make it easier to track anything that is stolen.