Simple deterrents can prevent thefts on farms, other rural properties

policeCrime on farms can be a serious problem, and rural communities have seen an alarming increase in the theft of farm tools and equipment.

“Theft has always been an issue on farms, but we’re seeing even more today,” noted Frank Dunton, Virginia Farm Bureau vice president of investigations and a certified forensic, fire and fraud investigator. “There are steps that people can take to ensure their property and items are safe and secure.”

The top priority for landowners, Dunton said, should be proper lighting and properly secured equipment, vehicles and tools. He recommended using bright LED lights that are motion sensor-activated. Properly locking all buildings, including shops, sheds, garages and barns, also is essential.

Additionally, Dunton suggested installing cameras on buildings or items of value, including sprayers or field equipment. “Even just a cheap deer camera can make a difference,” he shared.

He also suggested maintaining an inventory of all tools and equipment. It’s important to record the serial and model numbers for each item, as well as a description of the type, make and brand and its replacement value. “Make sure those items have the proper insurance too,” Dunton said. “If they were to be stolen, you want them to be replaced.”

Property owners should check the grounds regularly to determine whether something is missing. And installing an alarm system on your home or outbuildings can be helpful. If any theft occurs—big or small—report it to the police, Dunton emphasized.

Posting “No Trespassing,” “Posted” or “Beware of Dog” signs on the property also may help deter people from entering. Additionally, “if you see something suspicious on your neighbor’s property, call them and let them know so they can check it out,” Dunton said.

When it comes to your home, many of the same tips apply.

“Keep ladders away from the side of your home or other buildings so that you aren’t inviting a thief to climb through your window,” Dunton said. “Keep your bushes, trees and hedges trimmed, so you can see out of your windows. And again—I can’t stress it enough—keep things locked and install motion-censored, bright lights.”


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