Many people look to starting a smallholding for a somewhat ‘peaceful’, back-to-basics lifestyle, but there is one troublesome threat to this. Agricultural theft is a rising problem in the UK, with the cost of agricultural vehicle theft claims to NFU Mutual alone totalling £9.3 million in 2019. But no fear, there are steps being taken to crack down on agricultural crimes with the formation of the Agricultural and Construction Equipment (ACE) unit. It’s not just the initial loss which is bad for business, the general disruption on a farm can also be devastating. Here are a few simple tips to help deter thieves.
Circle the Wagons (and the Livestock)
It is important to have a safe and secure place to keep your farming equipment, as well as your livestock. Try to keep animals in fields with well-maintained hedges, fences and gates. Sheds and yard gates should be kept locked when not in use. The Winton Post Hole Borer will make light work of replacing any rotten fence or gate posts.
Make sure to keep attachments, tools and tractors in a building with sturdy locks and good lighting. Motion-activated lights are a good way of signalling to thieves that they are being watched, rather than keeping the lights on all night. If you have a bit of a bigger budget for security, an alarm and/or CCTV can be a worthwhile investment.
Many customers opt to buy a shipping container to put on their land to protect smaller equipment and vehicles. They are relatively cheap, easily secured and enclosed items aren’t visible from outside.
Agricultural fuel theft is another crime to be wary of, some prevent this by fitting wheel clamps or hitch locks to tanks and keeping fuel secured inside a suitable building.
Mark It As Yours
Another handy tip is to mark equipment with your postcode or business ID so it can be easily returned if it is recovered. Trackers, immobilisers and CESAR registration marks help you get your property back after a theft. If visible, it may deter criminals in the first place.
Don’t forget your livestock, they should also be tagged and recorded to identify them as yours. Tagging can be ear tags, tattoos, freeze branding or microchips.
Networking is Key
Thieves often target isolated areas, but having a network with other farms and neighbours on social media can be a great idea. Keep each other informed of suspicious activity, or up to date with recent activities in the area. Neighbourhood Watch also has comprehensive pages on rural crime, not limited to agricultural theft, which is worth a look.
Another connection you should be aware of is your insurance. Make sure to read the fine print of your contract so you know exactly what is covered by your policy. Always update your insurer of any new purchases or changes to circumstances to ensure you are covered in the unfortunate event of needing to claim.
If you have any concerns you can get lots of helpful advice from insurers direct and general support from many online communities.