How to improve farm security
It’s a sad fact of life that crime is a big problem for farmers.
Just take a look at our Rural Crime Report for proof. It can challenge livelihoods as much as bad weather, crop failure or animal health.
Crime is an issue that goes beyond finances. With theft and damage, no amount of compensation can fully make up for the psychological impact of being a victim. There is a real sense of violation when someone trespasses on your land with bad intentions.
However, we can be proactive about the issue by taking measures to make our farm security the best it can be. These measures don't have to be hugely expensive or use up a lot of your valuable time, but can be highly effective in preventing your farm from becoming the latest target for criminals.
Let's take a look at some of the main things you should be doing right now to protect your property and equipment.
Look for existing weaknesses
Before you put any security measures in place, you’ll need to analyse your existing set-up. It may be you are already as secure as you can be in certain areas but there may also be glaring gaps that need to be filled. The only way to find out is to check thoroughly and think like a criminal.
Consider your land and buildings from the perspective of a potential thief. What weaknesses can you spot? If you were trying to break in, what route would you choose? If you were planning to leave with bulky equipment how would you do it? This will allow you to address the most urgent problems first.
Install security measures
Technology can offer a real advantage in deterring criminals. This includes alarms, security systems and motion activated lights. Put alarms on doors to buildings and point CCTV cameras at the most vulnerable spots on your farm.
Visible deterrents will also help. Many criminals on farms are chancers or simply not that good at their chosen profession. Any form of obvious security could make them think twice and choose somewhere else to carry out their illegal activities. A loud alarm could well encourage them to flee empty handed. Visible security may also discourage the more innocent from straying on your land and scaring your animals.
Check locks on windows and doors
There are good locks and there are locks that anyone with a little knowledge can open quite easily. Check that your padlocks are strong – consider covers to them to stop them being cut through. Don’t forget the hinges of the doors, as these can be real weak points.
This is not an area where cost savings reap long term benefits. Try and get the best equipment you can as your locks can make a real difference between a safe and unsecured farm. And don’t forget to store keys in places that aren't obvious as well.
Expert advice is always welcome, so try the Master Locksmiths Association for a list of established fitters in your area and more information on the security options available to you.
Check the perimeter
Security starts as soon as your land begins. Bolstering your perimeter security could include additional fencing, ditches to prevent unauthorised vehicles accessing your land and thick prickly hedges. Make sure existing infrastructure is in good working order. Don't offer any obvious open doorways to your property.
You could also consider geo-fencing as another, more expensive security measure. This virtual perimeter is the hi-tech way of detecting intruders. Like all new and effective technology it’s likely to be the norm for farmers in the future. If you can’t afford it yet (although prices are coming down) then old fashioned methods are still the best way of keeping unwanted people out.
Consider branding and serial numbers
Take the protection of your equipment and vehicles seriously. You can brand your equipment with unique serial numbers – such as etching into a window or the bodywork. Take photos as well. If your equipment is stolen, this will help with the recovery. Consider everything of value. For example, GPS kit theft has been a problem in recent years.
It may seem a little defeatist to brand equipment before it’s stolen but it’s also realistic. If someone does take your equipment, your chances of recovery are so much greater if the police are able to identify where the stolen goods were from in the first place. We offer a security saving on our insurance when an approved device is fitted to your agricultural vehicles.
Don’t forget livestock security
Your animals are your income and even if intruders aren’t planning on robbery then they can still spook them and create issues you need to deal with.
Keep surrounding fences, gates, and hedges in a good state. Make sure gates, barns and sheds are locked. Tag all livestock. Take photographs of all, or your most valuable, animals making sure their ear tags or branding is visible. All your livestock records should be up to date, once again making recovery more likely in the event of theft.
Get insurance that covers you fully
Should the worst happen, make sure you have the right level of insurance to cover everything. This includes your livestock, equipment, tractors, etc. The stress of being the victim of a crime is doubled if you find out you won't be getting the compensation to replace missing or broken items.
As the UK’s leading rural insurer, we're here to ensure your farming business is in safe hands. Whatever your insurance needs, talk to us and add an extra layer of security to your farm whatever the future holds.