Rural crime remains a major issue around the country. Despite 2017 statistics suggesting that crime in Ireland only rose 3% on the 2016 levels, there are some who question the validity of these claims as they are based on crimes reported. Some suggest that up to 43% if not more of rural crime go unreported. This makes sense when you consider that numerous rural Garda stations have closed leaving many communities without a local Garda they know and trust. Couple that with the statistics from a 2018 survey suggesting that only 62% of people believe that the Garda have power to do anything about crimes reported to them (this same report has reporting of crimes as high as 84%).
Regardless of the statistics the fact remains that rural crime is still prevalent around the country and trusting or not trusting the Gardaí to catch the criminals after the event won’t protect you from being targeted. Farms are hot targets for criminals and all farmers need to be alert to the dangers. So here at Agridirect we’ve compiled a list of ways to protect your farm and property.
Vehicles, trailers and horseboxes are all easy targets for criminals, especially if they are left unsecured or in isolated locations. Go to Facebook stolen pages and you will see a continuous stream of items that have been taken. The importance of securing your vehicles in a safe location cannot be overemphasised. A couple of options include parking vehicles as close to your premises as possible, ideally out of sight. The best area to store these items is indoors or, if that is not possible, away from busy, easy accessed roads. Wheel clamps are available to fit all sizes of wheel and should be used to help prevent trailers, horseboxes other vehicles from being stolen. Locking posts are an additional feature that can be installed to provide extra security for trailers. A vital piece of equipment is a trailer lock. If your trailer/towed machine doesn’t have one built in (or even if it does, two isbetter than one) the Universal Coupling Hitch Lock is something to look at. It works by locking a tow ball in place on the trailer/towed machine so that it cannot be hitched to a vehicle. While there are ways of towing a trailer with a chain it is a risk that most thieves won’t take as it is too obvious to other road users.
Another thing to be wary of is when your trailer is parked outside the mart or along the road attached to your jeep. There are a lot of cases of trailers simply being moved over to another vehicle when no one is looking (or even when people are around, always question if you see a trailer being changed to another vehicle at the mart). It is a good idea to lock your trailer to the vehicle with a chain and lock when you have it parked up.
When left at home the bigger block method is very effective; this is quite simply the practice of blocking your trailer with a vehicle or other object that is larger and more difficult to move in order to prevent it being taken easily. Placing scrap metal and other awkward bits in front of machinery can often be enough to deter the opportunistic thief.
Making a mark and keeping records
Marking or customising your farm equipment will ensure that your property is easily identifiable and will deter thieves. It will also help the Gardaí to return any recovered property to you in the event of a theft. You should keep receipts, documentation or photographs of your property in a safe place to assist the Garda should you be the victim of a theft.
The IFA initiative Theft Stop allows you to both ID mark your property and keep secure records. You can register for free at www.TheftStop.ie and once registered, you will get a unique security ID that you can use to brand or mark your property. Items to assist with marking property are available from Theft Stop.ie but many people have their own methods of marking property and that works fine too; the most important thing is that the unique ID is used.
Alarms and tracking
Many companies offer alarm and tracking devices for trailers, horseboxes and cattle trailers. This is not a one-size-fits-all area and care should be given to ensuring that the company is reputable and registered appropriately. You should examine the services on offer carefully and choose a solution that suits your immediate needs.
The second-hand market for trailers and horseboxes is a busy place and care should be taken when buying a used item. Ask for proof of ownership and be suspicious of anything that seems out of the ordinary. Ask for a receipt of purchase and question the owner about their farm or business.
Never view a trailer in a public car park or other public place. If possible, try to view at the seller’s home address or at a known place where there is CCTV. Ensure to check for any tampering or removal of the chassis or Theft Stop ID. And if you are going to view machinery from a private seller it is advisable to bring someone with you. There a lot of cases where people have been robbed just going to view a potential purchase.