Prevention would be ideal.
But, in reality, no amount of security measures on a farm – short of erecting an electrified, wire-topped fence regularly patrolled by guards and scary-looking dogs – will stop the most determined of thieves.
But positive steps can be taken to protect property and equipment by tipping the scales of possibility that anyone indulging in such activity may be caught red-handed.
Floodlights that illuminate the yard, big locks on doors and gates, alarms that wake the neighbourhood, cameras that record what’s going on – even Farm Watch signs – can all do their bit to discourage dishonest visitors.
“Preventing people from gaining access to farms is a real problem,” agrees Barry King of farm security specialists Bates Security Systems (01708 346 777).
“But where it’s possible to install one within a sound boundary fence or wall, a robust physical barrier can be effective in preventing easy entry and exit from the road, even if it doesn’t stop access from fields.”
Gates that have to be unlocked every time you enter or leave the farm will quickly end up being left wide-open during the day.
Power gates and barriers overcome that to a large extent, but need to be substantial.
“A sliding power gate offers the greatest protection due to its sheer weight and the fact that it’s all but impossible to remove it,” says Mr King.
“Swing power gates are also effective and convenient, but with magnetic locking they can be forced open more easily; the same goes for lifting barriers.”
Where a physical barrier is impractical or too costly, farmers must rely on the fear of being caught to put off would-be thieves.
A couple of strategically-sited dummy cameras can be as effective as real ones as long as they are convincing – it’s possible to buy genuine housings without the gubbins inside.
What about CCTV cameras?
“Camera and recording technology have greatly improved,” he says.
“But to get a really good image at night you have consider how best to light the area.”
Normal floodlights can suffice, but sophisticated day/night systems work best in metal halide light, which is brighter than normal white light and essential for a really clear image.
Infra-red illuminators are also becoming more popular, as they provide night-time vision without advertising the fact.
Cameras can be fixed, fixed with automatic zoom when movement in the field of vision is detected (making it more likely to be able to read a van number plate) or rotating within a dome.
They can also be equipped to respond to an infra-red beam or passive sensor trigger to provide an almost instant view of a particular location with zoom giving a close-up view of activity.
Electronic alarms are the modern-day equivalent of a flock of geese – the noise they make is meant to cause anyone with malicious intent to think twice.
Alarms connected to door and window sensors, including heavy duty magnetic types on larger shutter or sliding doors, are popular and often used in conjunction with infra-red or transmitter/receiver units to provide coverage within buildings and yards.