Farm Ireland

Thursday 26 April 2018

Don't leave yourself wide open for the machinery theft gangs

Just a little more caution and some common sense precautions can save you thousands

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

With theft on the increase, farmyards stocked with expensive machinery, power tools, livestock, fuel, trailers and other equipment are a veritable supermarket for thieves.

Garda crime prevention officer Sergeant Dean Kerins says farmers are a major target for both opportunistic thieves and organised gangs due to the abundance of high-value items contained in every farmyard.

"Farmyards are often open places, with easy access and plenty of expensive equipment lying around," he says.

"They could have literally thousands and thousands of euro worth of machinery and tools left in plain sight."

The crime prevention officer's first piece of advice to all farmers is to stop thieves before they can even start by making sure there is no free access into the yard.

"If you look at farms in France, they all have a barrier of some kind at the gate," he points out. "Put up a gate and keep it locked."

Sgt Kerins adds that farmers have some bad habits that need to be rectified. Leaving keys in the jeep, tractor or ride-on lawnmower is a regular occurrence," he says. "You might as well put a sign on it telling the thieves to steal it. Lock the jeep or tractor and take your key with you."

Among the most commonly stolen items from a farm are cattle trailers, builders' trailers and horseboxes, which are often used to transport other stolen goods.

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"These are so easy to steal because they can simply drive in, hitch up and drive off in a matter of minutes," adds Sergeant Kerins.

He advises that farmers keep their trailers out of sight behind another barrier of some kind and use a hitch lock.

To protect tools, he says farmers should keep them out of sight in a locked cabinet and locked shed.

"Remember that there is no point putting a good lock on a bad door," he says.

"If you're going to do it, do it right. Have a good solid door with a good lock. When installing doors, make sure they open outwards so that they cannot be kicked in."

CCTV, security lighting and motion sensors can be used around the yard to deter thieves from gaining access to sheds.

"An alarm on the house or shed is the best deterrent of all, but it must be monitored by yourself or another company so that they can be easily alerted to possible intruders," he advises. "There are plenty of perimeter or driveway sensors on the market nowadays."

Farmhouses and yards will often have copious amounts of expensive diesel and heating oil on the premises, which are another favourite of thieves.

"You can lock the tank, put a cage around it or best of all, use an oil guard that can sense when the level of fuel is dropping at an unusually fast rate. A system like that can send a text message to your phone to alert you," says Sergeant Kerins.

Many farmers also keep shotguns in the house, which should be locked in a gun cabinet, which should itself be securely attached to a wall.

"Farmers are in general very good about gun security, but remember to keep it safely locked away at all times when it is not used," he says.

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