Farm Ireland

Saturday 21 April 2018

Cracking rural crime: Commonsense security measures can go a long way towards frustrating criminals


Simple security measures can go a long way
Simple security measures can go a long way
Derek Casey

Derek Casey

The amount of farm machinery and equipment being stolen around the country each week is shocking.

Everything from tractors, trailers, jeeps, quad bikes, lawnmowers, generators, welders and chainsaws regularly being reported as stolen from farms. The latter items are a particular risk because they are smaller and easier to transport, while still being very valuable and resalable - a good chainsaw these days can cost €700 or €800.

As recent reports have highlighted, gangs are getting more brazen and predatory and they target the vulnerable every single time.

The advice from the Gardaí is that the following screening questions can show whether there is a risk of burglary on your farm:

  • Are your tools, quads, trailers and other expensive equipment stored in a safe place?
  • Have you ever found anyone in your yard without a valid reason for being there?
  • Has anyone just turned up unexpectedly to try to buy or sell you something?
  • Have you seen suspicious vehicles on your property or in the neighbourhood?

I think most of us would answer yes to at least a couple of the above, which leads to the next obvious question - what can be done to cut down on rural crime?

In terms of making your farm a safer, more secure place, in the first instance Gardaí recommend restricting access to your yard by installing gates and fixing them to a sturdy concrete or metal post.

Don't hide spare keys outside or leave ladders or other climbing aids lying around outside.

Yard boundaries are important also; fencing, hedges and walls should be robust, well maintained and checked regularly for breaches.

Also Read

Some farmers in particularly vulnerable areas have considered installing alarms and/or CCTV which can provide surveillance on places out of view of the farmhouse.

A relatively cheap but effective deterrent for burglars is lighting.

Illuminating darkened areas which are overlooked from the dwelling or covered by CCTV increases the risk of a burglar getting caught.

Another cheap and effective way of deterring potential burglars is having a good guard dog who will act as a physical deterrent and make plenty of noise if a stranger enters the yard.

A common mistake made by farmers with a lot of machinery or farm tools is to keep them stored in an outbuilding away from the main holding.

Gardaí say it is much safer to keep such equipment in a building with enhanced security features close to the farmhouse.

Marking your equipment (for example a chainsaw) is a great idea for two reasons; firstly it is a deterrent to the saw being stolen (as it will be harder to sell on), and secondly, if the equipment is stolen but later recovered by Gardaí you will be able to prove that it is, in fact, yours.

Your name or personal mark with permanent marker or even heavy etching with an angle grinder are both very durable markings. Etching or engraving can be done underneath machinery or in areas which will become mud splattered, and so remain hidden. A soldering iron is effective for permanent marking on plastic areas.

Alarm bells

Farmers have a role to play in making sure we do not inadvertently support criminals operating rural crime rings. Ensuring a thorough check of an item's history is carried out is just as important as assessing its condition - nobody wants to uncover any nasty little surprises after the sale.

Everyone likes a good deal but if the price you are paying is way under the market value then you shouldn't ignore those alarm bells ringing in your head. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Trust your gut instincts because buying a stolen vehicle or other piece of farm equipment will result in it being seized by the Gardaí and there is no come back. This will mean the loss of the tractor or vehicle and the cash paid for it.

Take 10: essential checks when buying tractors and jeeps

For bigger items like tractors and jeeps, a few checks should provide you with the peace of mind you need. Even if it is priced correctly, due diligence checks should still be made:

1 Check the price of the vehicle you're looking to purchase is in-line with the market. If it is much cheaper, then alarm bells should be ringing.

2 Check the seller has a valid address and telephone number. Visit them at their home or business premises. Never meet half-way, at a service station or car park.

3 If in doubt, walk away until you have carried out research and checks to be sure.

4 Check the details on the Vehicle Registration Cert (log book) with the tractor serial/chassis number.

5 Check the year of manufacture. This will be stamped on the cab and glass and on other places around the engine.

6 Be satisfied with the identity of the person selling. If it's a private sale, it is not unreasonable to ask for ID and to note the registration of their transport.

7 Make sure any invoice or receipt you receive has a genuine VAT number and that it looks original.

8 Only buy from a ­trustworthy, reputable source.

9 Give the vehicle a full inspection and test drive.

10 and finally, don't buy from stran­gers.

For Stories Like This and More
Download the FarmIreland App

Indo Farming

Get the latest news from the FarmIreland team 3 times a week.

More in Rural Life