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Can rural crime be prevented?

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Rural crime has plagued our farming community for many years and as the cost-of-living crisis bites, the incentive for theft of farm equipment and machinery, poaching, fly-tipping and theft of livestock is likely to increase further.

Given the stretched police force and the more isolated locations of farms, it is increasingly important that farmers take strong preventative measures to reduce the opportunities for criminals and trespassers. According to an NFU survey 34% of farmers have had to change the way they work or live because of rural crime - a statistic which reveals an unfortunate but necessary truth.

There are, however, various steps that can be taken to protect property, livestock and land and to deter potential thieves and trespassers, many of which can be very cost-effective. Some of the measures to consider include:

  • Machinery and equipment: Remove keys from vehicles when not in use and place them out of sight in a locked location. Store machinery, tools and equipment in secure locations with strong padlocks. You could also consider tracking devices for high-value machinery, install immobilisers, apply mechanical devices to anchor down machinery such as quads and fit wheel-clamps to trailers. It is also beneficial to keep a record of the makes and models of what you own, to assist police investigations and insurance claims. Marking your equipment with your postcode and name can be another cost-effective way of deterring thieves and aiding the chances of your stolen equipment being recovered. 
  • Install cameras and motion sensor lighting in farmyards and buildings to deter trespassers. CCTV can also be linked to smart phones or other devices to alert you to intruders and allow you to monitor your farm when you are not on-site.
  • Gates: restrict access to land and farmyards with locked gates and security barriers. Obstructions, such as tree stumps, could be placed in gaps in hedges or field entrances with no gate to deter trespassers, poaching and fly-tipping and to make it as difficult as possible for them to access land. Also, be alert to potential signs of poachers and carry out regular drive-bys but if you do witness any poaching or hare coursing, do not approach the offenders and call the police immediately.
  • Fuel: tanks should be situated in a secure location and fuel bowsers can be fitted with wheel clamps or hitch locks. You could also consider fitting a remote fuel monitoring gauge and alarm system and ensure that lighting and CCTV is installed around the tank.

Whilst the above are some examples of how rural crime can be prevented on farms, unfortunately you cannot always avoid people trespassing onto your property.

If you have any queries or concerns regarding trespassers on your land, please do not hesitate to contact a legal advisor in our Agricultural Team on 01653 600070 who will be happy to discuss the issues further and to ascertain whether we can assist in bringing a claim against the trespasser.