Top protection and big, unfriendly dog

31 January 1997

Top protection and big, unfriendly dog

THIEVES visiting Richard Bakers farm in Suffolk last year took an ATV and other equipment worth about £8000, writes Michael Williams.

Since then the farms security system has been improved to the extent that it foiled a recent break-in attempt.

First serious break-in at Mr Bakers 180ha (450 acres) Foxes Farm, Creeting St Mary, Ipswich, occurred in 1976.

His response was to buy a big, black Alsatian which quickly earned a reputation for being bad tempered. He also installed security lights in the yards and improved the locks on some of the key buildings.

This modest investment appeared to work well until last spring when, instead of coming into the farm from the road, thieves came in the back way, crossing fields of growing crops to avoid the security lights.

And they left the same way, taking with them Mr Bakers Honda Foreman ATV, a John Deere ride-on lawnmower, a Ford P100 pick-up and some power tools.

The immediate problem on the day after the theft was the loss of an ATV which was used to deliver feed to 350 sows in an outdoor unit. Without it, there was no way to feed the pigs.

"I telephoned my local Honda dealer with my news and, thankfully, they responded by delivering me a new Foreman by lunch-time," he explains.

"My insurance is with the NFU Mutual, which managed to deal with the claim quickly and provided me with the written-down value of what was stolen, apart from the first £500 of the value of the ATV."

Although the insurance claim was settled amicably, the company made a firm recommendation that Mr Baker should review his farm security.

As a result, he called in Spalding-based Quantum Protection Services, a company on the NFU Mutuals recommended list.

Mr Baker, who was understandably concerned about the break-in, agreed with the security experts recommendations for the outside work, and called in British Telecom to provide a suitable system for the farm-house. Total cost of the work was about the same as the £8000 incurred during the break-in.

Most of the security system is unobtrusive, but an additional and obvious measure is Sam, a young Rotweiller dog bought after the last break-in. It looks and sounds extremely unfriendly.

"You cant stop someone breaking in if they are sufficiently determined," insists Mr Baker. "What I have tried to do is to discourage them by making it a difficult job with a high risk of detection. Unfortunately it probably means they will go somewhere else, which is not so well protected, but I have had two major break-ins and I do not want another."

Security equipment has already been put to the test. Intruders who arrived at the farm one night recently damaged some of the security lights and sensors and left other evidence of an attempted break-in, but left Foxes Farm empty-handed, on this occasion.

They shall not pass. Richard Baker with Sam, his Rotweiller deterrent.

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