Farm Ireland

Sunday 22 April 2018

Farm crime spree in Leinster sparks renewed warnings on security


Gardai at a checkpoint. File photo
Gardai at a checkpoint. File photo

Claire McCormack

A fresh spate of farm burglaries in Leinster has sparked calls for increased security on farms this summer.

A stud farm at the Curragh, Co Kildare, had its gates rammed to gain entry between May 24 and May 25. Saws, drills, hammers, grinders, horse collars and fuel were reported stolen. Gardai are also investigating after a farm premises was broken into in Rathcoffey, Co Kildare on May 9 with tools, equipment and diesel taken.

A Wicklow farmer also reported a stolen trailer, with 10 sheep gates inside, from his farmyard in Grangecon on May 22.

Sgt Gerry Goode at Naas Garda station said: "These people are moving around seeking an opportunity. CCTV is one deterrent but farmers must invest in good locks for oil tanks and make it as difficult as possible."

Colin Connolly, former IFA rural crime officer said: "Farmers are so busy they are neglecting security. They are leaving gates and sheds open and taking a gamble. Criminals visit before crimes, they know where farmers are a bit complacent."

It comes as the Minister for Justice and Equality has been called on to urgently outline her plans to combat increased thefts from farms.

Making the call, Independent Senator Ronan Mullen, said farmers have been making the best of this weather by spreading slurry and doing all sorts of cutting and other general maintenance on their land.

However, he says some are waking up to find that their machinery, equipment or livestock have been stolen from their yards or fields while they slept.

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“Official figures indicate that burglaries on farmland fell 14pc in 2016 on the corresponding figure for 2015, but each week that passes this year there are news reports of farmers being robbed of their possessions.

Read also: Appeal to public after rare miniature ponies stolen in stud farm raid

“In the past few months, tractors have been stolen from yards across the country, cattle and sheep rustled and vehicles and tools taken,” he said.

Mullen highlighted recent incidents which saw a quad bike and trailer were taken from a dairy farmer in Co. Waterford and that four miniature ponies worth €4,000 were stolen from fields in Co. Leitrim. While on St. Patrick's Day, a tractor worth about €30,000 was taken from a farm in Co. Carlow at 7.30pm.

“It has been claimed that drones are being used to spy on farms, some of which are very easy targets if they are located near good road networks.

Read also: Farmer has car stolen while counting cattle in field

“This is why I would like the Minister to come to the House and outline what measures she is taking to protect farmers and what her Department is doing to prevent such crime from taking place in the first place.

“The closure of rural Garda stations has been very difficult for communities around Ireland, as we all know, and has increased the fears of those living on farms or in rural parishes.

“Last August, we had a major awareness campaign from the Garda Síochána, the Irish Farmers' Association, DoneDeal and Crimestoppers to halt thefts on farms but crimes against farmers, as I have been saying, continue to happen on a frequent basis.

“Of course, some farmers are potentially losing more money by offering cash rewards of thousands of euros in order to get their means of production back, while others are forced to pay higher premiums for insurance,” he said.

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