DON’T make life easy for criminals” is the message for farmers as police encourage them to take the time to carry out a farm security stock check as the darker nights draw in.
With rural crime severely impacting farm businesses, police want to remind farmers to be vigilant at this time of year.
There are many steps farmers can take to prevent, deter and reduce farm theft including:
n Restrict access to your yard, the fewer ways in the better; use locked gates or security posts if practicable.
n Fencing, hedges and walls should be robust, well maintained and regularly checked. Find out about alarms and the latest technology, such as point-to-point electronic beams, to protect the perimeter of your property.
n Good lighting helps make a farmyard both safe and secure.
n Always remove keys and lock vehicles. Secure or immobilise vehicles, plant, trailers and equipment when not in use. Keep items of value in securely locked sheds, out of sight.
Police operate a trailer marking scheme which is free of charge (contact your local crime prevention officer for further information). Store equipment and vehicles out of sight.
Physically secure ATVs using heavy duty chains and padlocks or block the machine in with other equipment so that it cannot be pushed away.
Consider more sophisticated options, including Tracker, CESAR marking systems and immobilisers which can help prevent theft and help police retrieve and return recovered items.
n Lock away hand tools when not in use not only to prevent theft but also so they cannot be used by the thief against your own property. Engrave items with house number and postcode or use CESAR.
The Rural Crime Partnership (RCP) is offering a subsidised support scheme to help tackle the quad and trailer theft by encouraging owners to fit an electronic tracking device to proactively deter theft and assist police with recovery should an item be stolen.
RCP is subsidising the cost of having a tracking device supplied and fitted to smaller items of agricultural equipment. The offer is open for six months, subject to the review of the RCP, and represents a saving of around £150 over typical costs. For further information please log onto – www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/rural-crime.
n Consider fitting alarms and install a CCTV system. Ensure the correct CCTV signage is placed round the perimeter of your property. Signs can be a great deterrent in themselves.
n Keep an inventory of items, including all serial numbers, makes, models and any distinctive damage or marks. Photograph items.
n Regularly check fields where stock is grazing. Keep gates (including yard gates) locked with British Standard closed shackle locks and ensure that all fixing bolts cannot be removed easily. Invert or cap gate hinges to prevent gates being lifted off to provide access. Take photographs of valuable animals with brand and/or ear tags clearly visible.
n Inquire with PSNI about joining your local farm watch scheme for up-to-date crime prevention advice, signage and inclusion in a text alert service.
n Report all suspicious activity or any form of farm theft.
Commenting, Supt Brian Kee, PSNI Service Lead for Rural and Wildlife Crime, said: “Reporting promptly to the police any activity that raises your suspicions is a good way to initiate our investigation and will help to deter criminals and reduce crime in your area.
“It could be an unusual vehicle seen parked or travelling on a road in the area, or someone calling and asking for directions. Remember that these could well be criminals checking out what’s on offer, what vehicles they will need to transport the machinery they intend to steal, and the level of farm security. Take a note of the vehicle registration number and a description of the vehicle and pass that onto police.
“Criminals are always on the lookout for valuable items that they can easily re-sell. Quads, trailers and other items of farm machinery should therefore be kept locked away in garages or outbuildings, when not in use.
“And, for added security, people should consider locking gates, using British Standard closed shackled padlocks, at yards and on laneways to prevent unauthorised vehicular access.
“Preventing crime and being switched on to crime prevention will help to protect your property. Don’t make life easy for the criminals.
“Putting frequently used machines away and locking up sheds and outbuildings may seem like a chore you can do without, but it won’t be as inconvenient as having an important and valuable piece of equipment stolen.
“Make your property unique to you by permanently marking all items with your postcode and house number. The marking should be placed on parts of the equipment that will be difficult for the thieves to disguise or expensive for them to replace.
“Remember to take a photograph of the machinery and keep a list of makes, models, serial numbers, colour and a record of any damage.
“Make sure your oil tanks are locked, and are situated in well-lit areas. Keep receipts from the latest delivery and check the oil level regularly. Any oil drums should be locked away in a secure building.
“Farmers also need to give some thought to the security of their livestock, and in addition to keeping records of stock numbers and making regular checks to ensure all is in order, farmers should also record the colour and location of dye markings.
“Access to fields should not be overlooked either, and here too gates leading to fields should be securely locked at all times.”
Adding his support to the appeal, UFU President Ivor Ferguson said: “I would encourage UFU members to take the necessary steps as described by the PSNI to help protect any machinery, equipment and livestock.
“In the past rural thieves have been successful in putting some farmers out of business and affecting both their’s and their family’s livelihood and this is not something we would like to see.”