Farmers must get ‘serious’ about crime prevention, warn Gardaí

Farmers will have to take crime prevention a lot more seriously, according to a crime prevention officer. Stock picture
Farmers will have to take crime prevention a lot more seriously, according to a crime prevention officer. Stock picture
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Only a fraction of IFA members have signed up to the association’s anti-theft initiative, prompting calls for farmers to get serious about crime prevention measures.

The ‘TheftStop’ programme was launched two years ago but IFA crime prevention officer Barry Carey told the Farming Independent that less than 100 farmers from a total membership of 76,000 had availed of the programme.

TheftStop involves farmers marking their equipment and registering the details on an IFA database, but Mr Carey said that while “everyone agreed that it was a very good idea, they seemed to find it cumbersome and it never took off”.

Crime prevention officer Sergeant Tom O’Dwyer said farmers “will have to take security (on their farms) much more seriously” if the work of the gardaí in combating rural crime is to be successful.

“It is very difficult for the gardaí to prosecute if the ownership of equipment which we have recovered cannot be established and we are not in a position to have proof that it was stolen,” he said.

“Last year, we displayed hundreds of items that had been recovered, but only three items could be returned to their owner because they were not marked and farmers could not produce any proof of ownership.”

The IFA is now looking at linking up with a new community-driven property marking scheme involving county joint policing committees, local authorities and groups such as Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch.

James O’Neill, development manager of Property Marking Ireland, said the not-for-profit scheme is operating in counties Monaghan, Cavan and Sligo “with very encouraging results”.

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“The secret to its success is that it is run by the community, with neighbour helping neighbour, which gets everyone in the community involved,” he said.

“We started in Co Monaghan and in the past year, of the total burglaries in the Cavan-Monaghan garda district, only 5pc were in Co Monaghan. We are hoping that the success will be repeated in other areas, because the proper marking of equipment is working.”

Nationwide cover

Property Marking Ireland gives farmers access to marking equipment which can emboss the owner’s Eircode on all kinds of surfaces. The scheme also erects signs stating that all machinery and equipment in an area have been marked.

The scheme has now been extended to southern counties, initially in Clare, and it aims to provide nationwide cover within two years.

Meanwhile, Sergeant O’Dwyer said that farmers should look at investing in locks and other security devices that can send alerts to mobile phones.

He stressed that there are too many instances where keys are left in jeeps and quads, providing easy pickings for burglars, and a lot of trailers and cattle boxes are in farmyards which are not secured by gates and locks.

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