Warning after thieves target farm outbuildings

Farmers are being urged to be alert following a number of reports of thefts from farm outbuildings.

With dark nights upon us, thieves are targeting farms and steadings where high value items are often kept.

NFU Scotland said farmers had reported a number of thefts from outbuildings in the Banff and Peterhead areas of Aberdeenshire.

See also: 10 tips for farm crime prevention as clocks go back

Meanwhile, tools worth £10,000 in total were stolen after thieves broke into sheds and workshops at farms in Scarrington, Nottinghamshire and Orston, in Northamptonshire, on Monday night (2 November).

Across the whole country, the theft of GPS units and domes from farm machinery continues to be a real problem.

PC Richard Russell, a North East Division crime reduction officer from Police Scotland, said: “I ask farmers to consider how a thief may enter your site and how easy it might be for them to gain entry to your buildings and vehicles.   

“Discourage a thief from approaching your premises by closing and locking yard gates. Ensure adequate lighting covers the yard and doors to outbuildings. 

“Several security devices are now on the market which alert and relay live footage of your CCTV to your mobile telephone.”

He added: “Store portable tools, such as chain saws, jet washers and welders, in a secure locked ‘cage’ where possible, and ensure any padlocks or chains are of a good quality. 

“Thieves might be reluctant to use power tools to cut open heavy locks due to noise created, and something that takes time to remove will also act as a deterrent.”

Daily routine

PC Russell suggested a daily routine of locking outbuildings and securing vehicles at the end of each day, as well as being more controlling over keys, where they are kept and who can access them.

Andrew Connon, of NFU Scotland, said farmers should keep farm vehicles and buildings secure and locked wherever possible. 

People living and working in rural communities can sign up to receive crime alerts in their area by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Alert scheme.

Nine tips to prevent theft from farm outbuildings

  1. Close and lock yard gates at night to deter drive-through thieves
  2. Check existing lighting, alarms and cameras are working correctly and update if necessary
  3. Lock outbuildings at night and carry out your usual security checks in winter
  4. Consider infra-red beam alarms, CCTV and floodlighting to protect farmyards
  5. Store portable tools such as chain saws, jet washers and welders in a secure locked “cage”
  6. Join a local farm watch group or WhatsApp network to keep updated about local rural crime trends and suspicious sightings
  7. Mark tools, equipment and implements with your postcode to deter thieves and aid recovery by police
  8. Know what you own – record all makes and models, and photograph kit to help police investigate and aid an insurance claim
  9. Remove keys when machines are not in use and store them in a secure cabinet where possible. 

Source: NFU Mutual/Winter Rural Security Checklist

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