Agricultural crime spike in October – be vigilant

In October 2016 PSNI recorded 66 incidents of agricultural crime which was 20 percent higher than any other month in 2016. Longer hours of darkness can present greater opportunities for criminal activity, particularly in remote areas.

According to NFU Mutual, last year agricultural crime cost Northern Ireland £2.5m, down (14.9%) on the 2015 cost. However, initial figures for the first half of 2017 suggest the downward trend isn’t going to last. From 1st July 2016 to 30th June 2017, PSNI recorded 566 incidents of agricultural crime which is nearly a 10% increase on the same period last year. It must be noted that these are reported incidents, National Farmers’ Union research suggests that up to a quarter of rural crimes go unreported.

Rural crime severely impacts the farm business and makes rural communities feel very vulnerable, particularly due to geographic and service isolation. Tools and ATV/Quad’s remain the most common items stolen. Machinery, 4x4’s, livestock and trailers also feature as sought after items.

The UFU wants to remind all of its members that being vigilant at this time of year will help reduce losses and be cost effective. There are many steps farmers can take to prevent, deter and reduce farm theft:

Access to your property: Restrict access to your yard, the fewer ways in the better, use locked gates or security posts if practicable.

Boundaries: Fencing, hedges and walls should be robust, well maintained and regularly checked. Find out about alarms and the latest technology, such as point-to-point electronic beams, to protect the perimeter of your property.

Lighting: Good lighting helps make a farmyard both safe and secure.

Vehicles: ALWAYS remove keys and lock vehicles. Secure or immobilise vehicles, plant, trailers and equipment when not in use. Keep items of value in securely locked sheds, out of sight. Police operate a trailer marking scheme which is free of charge (contact your local crime prevention officer for further information).

Physically secure ATV’s using heavy duty chains and padlocks or block in with other equipment so it cannot be pushed away.

Consider more sophisticated options such as Tracker, CESAR marking systems and immobilisers which can help prevent theft and help police retrieve and return recovered items.

Tools: Lock away hand tools when not in use, not only to prevent theft but also so they cannot be used by the thief against your own property. Engrave items with house number and postcode or use CESAR.

Alarms/CCTV: Consider fitting alarms and installing a CCTV system. Ensure the correct CCTV signage is placed round the perimeter of your property. Signs can be a great deterrent in themselves.

Record items: Keep an inventory of items, including all serial numbers, makes, models and any distinctive damage or marks. Photograph items.

Livestock: Regularly check fields where stock are grazing. Keep gates (including yard gates) locked with British Standard closed shackle locks and ensure that all fixing bolts cannot be removed easily. Invert or cap gate hinges to prevent gates being lifted off to provide access. Take photographs of valuable animals with brand and ear tags clearly visible.

Farm Watch: Inquire with PSNI about joining your local farm watch scheme for up-to-date crime prevention advice, signage and inclusion in a text alert service.

Report all suspicious activity or any form of farm theft.

UFU members can avail of special offers on certain security equipment such as block stem, guard cam, Cesar and tracker.

UFU encourages all members to be switched on to crime prevention- let’s not make life easy for criminals!

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