Farmers and landowners urged to review security as the clocks go back

Dr Steffan George, development director of the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA)
Dr Steffan George, development director of the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA)

Farmers and rural landowners are being warned to increase their security measures ahead of the winter months in a bid to tackle the increased risk in rural crime by the Master Locksmiths Association.

The recommendations come as statistics show that rural theft continues to increase – with livestock theft rising by 7% over the last year and tractor theft continuing to blight the sector.

Rural areas present the greatest opportunity for thieves because of isolated houses and buildings, lower lighting – especially during autumn and winter – and fewer witnesses. A recent survey has revealed that the true cost of crime for those living and working in rural areas could exceed £800m, with the average cost of those crimes to a household being over £2,500.

Here, Dr Steffan George, development director of the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA), the leading trade association for the locksmithing profession, gives expert advice on protecting your land:

Preventing crime in rural communities is a big issue at this time of year and farmers need to look at their premises and equipment with the eye of a thief. The following steps will ensure your land is as protected as possible:

* Don’t be tempted to economise by buying cheap locks. High quality locks, chains and padlocks will prove an investment. Make sure you use products that have been approved by an independent product testing house to provide peace of mind. Visit www.soldsecure.com to check for lists of appropriate products. Where appropriate use good quality padlocks with heavy duty hasp and staple on barn and outbuilding doors. It is ideal if the locks are fitted directly to the door, with two equally spaced locks from top to bottom. Controlling access to farmyards is important and this can be achieved through the use of quality chains and padlocks being used to lock all gates.

* Don’t specify and fit locks or undertake repairs yourself as fitting the wrong products can undermine security and affect insurance premiums and cover should the worst happen.

* Maintenance is vital as rusted locks, chains, hasps and staples, cracked panes of glass and rotted frames and sills are all features that opportunistic thieves look out for, so it’s essential to perform regular and thorough maintenance checks.

* Fit alarms to outbuildings, invest in outdoor security lighting – such as dusk till dawn and motion sensor lighting, and install CCTV and intruder alert systems. Surveillance is an increasingly popular measure, along with property marking/tagging systems.

* Theft of farm machinery is frequent and tends to be organised, every year tractors worth millions of pounds are stolen from British farms and shipped. Tracking devices have proved popular but are of little use when your vehicle is already in another country. Instead of trying to find your tractor after it has been stolen, try to stop it being stolen in the first place by locking down gates and outbuildings using locks, chains, bollards, wheel clamps, ground anchors and safes for locking keys away.

* Finally, we recommend consulting an MLA-approved locksmith, who will be able to carry out a tailored security assessment on your property and land, advising on suitable measures for both safety and security.

Taking the above precautions and investing in the right equipment will put you in the best position when it comes to protecting your land and property. If you would like further advice and input from a professional, contact your local MLA-approved locksmith for peace of mind.

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