POLICE patrols have been stepped-up in the Worth Valley after a string of quad bike thefts – mainly from farms.

According to West Yorkshire Police, there have been five reports of quad bikes – and motorcycles – being stolen in the area since early December.

Inspector John Barker, head of Keighley Neighbourhood Policing Team, says: "Patrols have been increased, and we continue to utilise the Operation Steerside team to tackle illegal off-road riding.

"Those involved in these crimes tend to cross borders, so we also work closely with colleagues in North Yorkshire and share information on this type of offence and those suspected of being involved.

"Any suspicious activity around quad bikes or motorcycles should be reported as soon as possible by calling 101, or 999 if a crime is in progress.

"Information can also be reported anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or online."

Insurance society NFU (National Farmers Union) Mutual says it is "increasingly concerned" at rising numbers of quad bike thefts from farms.

And it reveals that last year, West Yorkshire was among the five worst-hit counties in the UK for such thefts.

Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist with NFU Mutual, said: "Determined criminal gangs are raiding the countryside for quad bikes, which are a vital tool on today’s farms.

"We're increasingly concerned by this spate of highly-organised thefts, as during the colder months and lambing season farmers face a massive struggle to keep their sheep fed and safe if thieves leave them without a quad.

"We know that criminals often return to a farm where they have stolen a quad in the hope of being able to take its replacement, so we’re working on a scheme with manufacturers to install free tracking devices and immobilisers to protect our customers from repeat crime. We also want to help keep farmers – who often work alone – safe. The immobiliser systems have technology which can raise the alarm if a machine has been impacted or rolled over.

"Also, we fund a dedicated agricultural vehicle theft unit at the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service to work with police forces – in the UK and abroad – to disrupt criminal gangs."

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.