Legal and Technical Chairman's Blog - 8 November 2018

With today (Thursday 8 November) being the ‘Day of Action Against Rural Crime’, NFU Scotland’s Legal and Technical Chairman Jamie Smart discusses some tips to keep your farm safe and secure.

As the clocks go back and the nights are darker for longer, it is important to be vigilant and take extra precautions against rural crimes such as vehicle and livestock theft.

The most recent Rural Crime Report from NFU Mutual shows that theft related crimes on farms is on the rise. Although rural crime fell in Scotland last year The estimated cost of rural crime overall rose by 13.4 per cent from 2016 to 2017, totalling a £44.5million lose to UK farming businesses last year.

These are stark figures for farmers and crofters, but there are things you can do to help deter thieves and make it harder for them to get away with their crimes.

It may seem obvious but many of us can be guilty of leaving keys in vehicles, removing the keys and keeping them in a secure location is a simple measure, as is keeping vehicles out of sight when not in use. A lot of vehicle crimes are the result of opportunistic thieves seeing a tractor, or other vehicle, left outside in plain sight for a few nights in a row before making their move.

It is also a good idea to limit the amount of entrances to the steading and sheds. It helps to be able to lock wherever you keep your vehicles, machinery and fuel wherever possible.

Many of these incidents are ones of opportunity for the thieves, who are much more likely to attempt to steal machinery or ATVs if it is easy. The more difficult you make it for criminals, the less likely they are to try anything. Keeping your equipment locked out of sight is a great way of doing this.

If you are unfortunate enough to have a piece of machinery stolen, it is always useful to have a note of its serial number and photographs of your machines. Again, for livestock, photographs and description of any identifying marks can be invaluable. The more detailed information that can be passed onto the police, the more likely they are to retrieve the stolen items.

Motion sensor lights are an easy and effective way to know when people are on your property and can go a long way to deterring criminals targeting your property. If you have CCTV make sure it is working and fit for purpose.

You should report any suspicious activity to police on 101 giving as much detail as possible. Take note of the number plates of any suspicious vehicles and descriptions of anyone who you don’t know.   If someone is on your farm or croft do not approach them, instead call 999.

Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to guarantee complete security for farm or crofting businesses. By taking simple measures, and just using extra caution, you can significantly decrease the chances of you being a victim of rural crime.

Author: Jamie B Smart

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