Rural crime cost the UK £54m in 2019 – an increase of nearly 9% on the previous year. While thefts seem to have reduced during the pandemic, criminals continue to go after those who work in the countryside.
Throughout lockdown, organised criminal gangs have targeted livestock, expensive tractors, quad bikes and GPS equipment. Last year also saw an increase in dog attacks on farm animals and fly-tipping incidents. These threats show no sign of going away.
With so much invested in equipment, vehicles, livestock and supplies, the cost of rural crime can be devastating. To help minimise the risk of becoming a victim, we discuss the steps you can take to protect yourself against the cost and damage associated with rural crime.
1. Assess and analyse current security
To understand how to make your farm more secure, conduct a full assessment to highlight where you can boost security. Identify the most valuable and vulnerable equipment and supplies on your farm and check the perimeter fencing and any gates around such items are completely secure.
2. Upgrade locks and doors
Make sure all doors and entrance ways to buildings and storage units are fitted with locks and deadbolts that cannot be easily broken. Padlock covers can also be added as an extra preventative measure. Ensure all keys are stored safely and securely.
Pay attention to the hinges of doors, as they are a weak point often targeted by thieves. Fitting inverted hinges will make property less accessible. Reinforced hinges are available which can help make property more secure and ultimately minimise the risk of theft.
3. CCTV, alarms and security lights
Installing an extensive intruder alert system on your property, which includes cameras, security lights and alarms, is one of the best ways to prevent equipment theft. Not only will such a system warn you of intruders and record their criminal activity for evidence, but they will also act as a strong deterrent – especially if you put plenty of signage around gates and perimeter fencing to act as a warning to opportunistic thieves.
Prioritise the most vulnerable and secluded areas of your farm when deciding where to install CCTV and security lighting. Also keep in mind the areas where the most valuable equipment and supplies are stored overnight.
4. Extra locks and equipment branding
Vehicles and farming equipment are among the most valuable items on a farm. For equipment that cannot be secured in locked enclosures overnight, it is advisable to fit wheel and steering locks on vehicles and equipment.
Adding tags or branded serial numbers can also help prevent equipment theft. For particularly rare or valuable vehicles you could consider installing a quality immobilising system, which will allow you to stop the vehicle remotely if is stolen.
It is recommended to keep a record of all equipment on the farm, which includes photos of each item. Then, if items are taken, this can be used to help speed up the recovery process.
5. Randomise farmyard activity
It is not uncommon for criminals to take note of your schedule and be aware of when you are away from certain areas for significant amounts of time. They can use such information to target the farmhouse or quiet areas of the farm while you’re busy working. Help avoid such criminal activity by mixing up your schedule and keeping your movements during the day less predictable.
6. Keep livestock secure
Livestock is vulnerable to burglars, so it is important that farm animals are kept as safe and secure as possible.
All fields with livestock should be checked regularly, with hedges, fences and gates kept in good condition. Barns, sheds and stockyard gates need to be kept closed and locked when you’re not there and, ideally, all livestock should be tagged.
Take photos of livestock that may be especially vulnerable to being stolen and maintain an accurate record of all animals on the farm.
7. Support your security with farm insurance
One of the best measures you can take to reduce the cost of rural crime is to take out farm insurance and make sure it is kept up-to-date. Even if your cover was suitable when you first took it out, if you’ve expanded your farm, diversified, or invested in new equipment or livestock, it may not be adequate now. Regularly reviewing your policy will make sure you’re not leaving yourself open to unnecessary risks.
Find out more about farm insurance here or speak directly to our team on 01603 218000.