Police probe increase in rural burglaries in Co Antrim

Police in Mid and East Antrim are continuing to investigate an increase in burglaries in recent months, particularly within rural parts of Ballymena.

There have been reports of burglaries in areas including Broughshane, Cullybackey and Clough affecting local farming residents.

Superintendent Gillian Kearney said: “I have been liaising with local councillors in Ballymena, to address the concerns of farming residents following an increase in burglaries that have occurred across the district.

“The local neighbourhood policing team will continue to conduct patrols throughout Ballymena and are always happy to meet with residents and community groups to offer security advice and assistance with crime prevention.

PSNI

“I would ask people to be extremely vigilant as we approach the darker evenings, reporting unfamiliar persons or vehicles and to take additional measures to keep their properties and belongings safe.

“If you have older relatives or neighbours, help them to keep their property and belongings secure, and close and lock all doors and windows. Consider security lights, fitted cameras and alarms. To a burglar, a dark house or premises is empty and will see this as an opportunity.

“If you witness any suspicious activity, please do not hesitate to contact Police on the non-emergency number 101.”

Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org .

Rural crime can have a significant effect on the farming community. Ask yourself, how can I protect my property, livestock, home and livelihood?

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 - Secure or immobilise vehicles, plant, trailers and equipment when not in use. Remove valuable machinery from fields overnight and keep items of value such as quads and cattle trailers in a securely locked shed, out of sight. Police operate a trailer marking scheme which is free of charge. Regular trailer marking days are held across Northern Ireland throughout the year. An electronic system such as Tracker and a CESAR vehicle marking system can help prevent thefts and help police return recovered items to their owner. ALWAYS remove keys from parked vehicles.

Tools - Hand-tools, generators and smaller items are easily stolen if not locked away when not in use. Engraving your house number and postcode on items can be a good deterrent.

Alarms/CCTV - Fit alarms to storage and other sheds. These could be permanent or wireless and use a ‘bell-only’ warning system or be connected to a phone line to let you or a monitoring company know the alarm has been activated. Consider installing a CCTV system to your yard, sheds and any other vulnerable areas.

Property marking - Identify items as yours… engrave your postcode and house number on smaller tools, paint your herd or farm name on trailers, record and keep all serial and model numbers. Fit quads, ride-on mowers with specialist marking kits.

Livestock Theft - Regularly check the fields where the stock are grazing; keep the hedges, fences and gates in good repair. Keep all sheds and stockyard gates closed and locked. Livestock identification is essential. Take photographs or videos of valuable animals with the brand and/or ear tags clearly visible. Maintain accurate livestock records.

Be a good neighbour - In all aspects of farm security good neighbourliness and vigilance are the most effective deterrent against crime. So watch out for your neighbours and encourage them to watch out for you. Report anything suspicious immediately to the Police.