picking lock© WestEnd61/Rex/Shutterstock

Police and insurers are warning farmers to remain vigilant as darker evenings create opportunities for thieves to target rural properties.

Vehicles and equipment stored in outbuildings are particularly vulnerable to theft under cover of darkness – especially if they are unsecured.

Darker nights mean farms will become more susceptible to crime, particularly farm motor theft, said the Rural Insurance Group.

Farmers could take simple steps to reduce the risk of waking up one morning to find an empty space where a quadbike or tractor should be.

See also: Video – Farmers top tips to combat rural crime

1. Make sure your vehicles are locked
Ensure tractors, farm trucks and other vehicles are secure with windows and sunroofs securely fastened

2. Keep keys in a safe place away from the vehicle
Don’t leave keys visible – and don’t leave them in obvious “hidden” places, such as under a wheel arch

3. Fit a tracking device if possible
A tracker can help increase the chances that a stolen vehicle is located and recovered

4. Store vehicles in a locked building
Convenient though it might be to leave vehicles in the open, out of sight is out of mind

5. Install CCTV
If your farm is targeted by thieves, camera footage can help track down the culprits

6. Invest in security lights or ‘dusk till dawn’ sensors
Nobody wandering around a farm for no good reason likes the spotlight on them

7. Padlock gates – with covers to prevent padlocks being cut off
Gates can be difficult to secure but a padlock and cover are good deterrents. Removing them can buy valuable seconds.

8. Establish a single entrance and exit to your property
Single tracks are easier to monitor and keep secure than farms with multiple entrances.

9. Plant thorn bushes and hedges around the farm perimeter
Properties which are difficult to enter on foot are less likely to be targeted.

Thefts so far this autumn include a blue flat bed trailer about 10m long, which was stolen from a farm in the Broxholme area of Lincolnshire during early October.

In Cheshire, a green 360 Kawasaki quad bike was stolen from a farm on Woodford Road, Poynton.

In the West Midlands, the past summer has not seen the spike in reported daytime thefts from farms that occurred last year.

But overnight burglaries to outbuildings have been reported.

“This is likely to increase with the darker nights upon us,” said West Mercia Police.