RURAL CRIME IS ON THE RISE

Despite average crime rates being lower in rural areas, our 2018 Rural Crime Report has discovered that the cost of crime in the countryside is at its highest in five years. Therefore, being vigilant and proactive in protecting your farm, livestock and property is a crucial part of rural life and with that in mind, we have compiled a range of general tips and practices to help keep your farm safe and secure.

Protecting your farm / home

Most farms are much more than just places of business, so any criminal activity on a farmhouse can have both a financial and an emotional impact. Therefore, home and farm security should be a major priority of rural life. The following physical precautions can help safeguard your home and family:

  • Ensure all doors, gates and windows are locked when you leave the house, even if you are still outside within your property
  • Keep house and car keys completely out of sight
  • Install fences and gates and ensure that they are kept in good condition
  • Store any high value items in a properly secured safe or vault
  • Keep dogs or geese to act as an early warning system
  • Display warning signs highlighting your security measures
  • Lay gravel rather than hard standing around farm buildings.

Within modern farmhouse security there are a number of highly efficient technological devices that can help protect and monitor your home. These include:

  • CCTV cameras to monitor your property and review any wrongdoing
  • Security lighting for yards and driveways
  • Burglar alarms, complete with infra-red motion detection. These should always be positioned within prominent sight to deter criminals
  • Tracking and location devices that can be fitted to valuables to aid recovery in the instance of theft
  • Geo fence alerts that inform you of any trespassers as they enter a set boundary.

In addition to contemporary technology, a number of more traditional measures can also help safeguard your property. These medieval methods include:

  • Creating earth banks, trenches and ditches along field boundaries to prevent criminals from driving 4x4s onto farmland
  • Having single entry points. Ensuring there is only one way in and out of a property can deter thieves who will generally favour multiple exit strategies
  • Installing heavily reinforced gates to protect farmyard entrances from ram raids
  • Storing expensive tools and chemicals within barricaded strong rooms.

Protecting your vehicles

The cost of farm vehicle theft rose by £500,000 in 2017, with both new and vintage vehicles proving an attractive target for organised gangs looking to clone them for sale domestically and internationally. NFU Mutual’s Agricultural Vehicle Specialist Clive Harris advocates that the most effective way to safeguard a variety of agricultural vehicles is by having multiple layers of security. For in-depth advice on how to prevent vehicle theft and measures you can take to improve recovery chances should the worst happen, visit our Preventing AV Theft article. 

Protecting your livestock

Livestock and wildlife crime is sadly an all too familiar problem for the majority of farmers, with both criminal and public disturbances having a detrimental effect on business. Insurance may often cover the cost of treating or replacing injured or stolen animals, but the effect on breeding programmes can take years to overcome. The following can help protect livestock:

  • Mark your animals using ear tags, horn-brands, branding or tattooing
  • Keep photographic records to aid in the recovery of stolen animals
  • Ensure you take a regular count of livestock numbers
  • Wrap and mark bales of haylage, bedding and feed
  • Install signs, warnings and notices that warn potential walkers to keep their dogs on a leash.

Community   

We believe that the best way to tackle rural crime is to involve everyone within the rural community. Creating a close, watchful and interactive bond between farmers, police and countryside residents is vital in preventing crime and ensuring criminals are brought to justice. There are a number of ways in which everyone can work together to tackle rural crime:

  • Look out for your neighbours and be aware of the increasing dangers of rural crime
  • Join a Farm Watch scheme to help organise security within the countryside
  • Share suspicious sightings with the local community
  • Maintain links with the police – we are involved in a number of schemes to improve and sustain communication between police and farming businesses
  • Report all crimes to the police. Underreporting can create a detrimental cycle by which rural crime is underestimated and therefore not prioritised or sufficiently resourced.

Although the battle of rural crime is spread across several fronts, taking precautionary measures is vital in its prevention. By proactively working together, rural communities can play a key role in ensuring farmers are able to continue to work effectively.