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Those who live and work in our rural communities can be affected by rural crime and this can have a devastating effect on rural communities and businesses.

Crimes typically associated with rural areas include:

  • farm equipment and livestock thefts
  • sheep worrying
  • wildlife crime
  • cyber crime

Whilst access to most farms makes total security impossible, much can be done to reduce the risks whilst not increasing the costs. The advice and information on these pages can help keep your home, farm and possessions safe.

What is rural crime?

Perimeter and outbuilding security

Security around the perimeter of farm premises and outbuildings is important and you should remember to:

  • Restrict access to your farm with fences and hedges which are kept in good repair and regularly checked for breaches or weak spots.
  • Keep gates locked and ensure they can’t be lifted off the hinges.
  • Use storage facilities which reflect the value of your property. A secondary secure storage such as a container should be used if necessary.
  • Use British Standard locks and high security closed shackle padlocks. 
  • Reinforce wooden doors and door frames, protecting windows with grilles, bars or blocking them up completely.
  • Keep outside lighting on a dawn to dusk circuit.
  • Use building or perimeter alarms where possible. CCTV can provide surveillance on places which cannot be seen from the farmhouse.
  • Lock buildings when not in use.
  • Display prominent signs promoting crime prevention measures and ensure employees know that security measures are in place.

Livestock

Grazing animals can be targeted by thieves and should be treated like any other valuable, with crime prevention measures used where needed:

  • Regularly check the fields where animals are grazing.
  • Keep hedges, fences and gates in good repair - ditches form a natural barrier. Field gate hinges should be capped to prevent easy removal.
  • Use Eartags, horn brands, tattooing or paint marks to make animals more identifiable.
  • Photographs should be taken of particularly valuable animals.

Quads, trailers and tools

These items are expensive and can be costly to replace. They need to be protected by:

  • Securing or immobilising vehicles and equipment when not in use, removing keys from unattended cars, tractors and quad bikes.
  • Avoiding leaving machinery in fields, particularly near roads.
  • Keeping quad bikes and trailers in your most secure outbuilding. If these vehicles are kept outside they should be put behind locked gates.
  • Using ground anchor chains with anchor plates
  • Marking trailers, quad bikes, horseboxes and tools with your postcode or farm name.
  • Recording serial/Chassis numbers and photograph them
  • Listing your tools, together with serial numbers, and registering these on immobilise.com
  • Fitting a tracker device or immobiliser to your vehicles. 

Register your farm vehicles

You can register your farm vehicles in a variety of ways including:

  • The Immobilise National Property Register (www.immobilise.com) - a free web based property register supported by Northumbria Police.
  • CESAR (www.cesarscheme.org) – this combines state of the art identification technology with a 24/7 secure and accredited database for police enquiries.
  • The National Plant & Equipment Register (www.ter-europe.org) – this allows five items to be registered free.
  • The DVLA ‘off-road register’- this is used for off-road quad bikes. No costs are involved and all vehicles are given a ‘Q’ prefix registration number. No tax disc is issued. 

Tack

Tack is expensive and can be protected by:

  • Keeping all tack items securely locked away. Saddle locks are also available to buy.
  • Marking your tack with letter stamps, engraving or microchipping so it is identifiable to you.
  • Taking photographs and keeping an inventory of your tack.

Fuel theft

Fuel theft can occur from both domestic tanks and vehicles but you can help prevent this by using the following advice.

Due to the increasing cost of road diesel more and more fuel is being stolen. Here’s how you could prevent it happening to you or your business:

  • Consider the use of locking fuel caps.
  • Park vehicles in areas that are well lit so they can be observed easily.
  • Use secure parking areas or compounds when vehicles are parked overnight, especially vehicles not parked at their operating base.
  • Fit anti-siphoning devices.
  • Consider using fuel dyes.
  • Use defensive parking techniques, wherever possible. Park vehicles against solid objects on the fuel tank side to prevent access.
  • Consider installing fuel cap alarms – wireless transmitters can be placed inside the screw cap of the fuel tank. A magnetic switch on the device sets off an alarm if the cap is opened or tampered with. More advanced systems can be linked to security lighting or send a text message to the owners or security provider. An isolation switch allows authorised access to the tank for refuelling.
  • Install cages and/or improve security that surrounds fuel storage tanks.
  • Consider using ‘bunded’ fuel tanks if your existing storage facility is not of that type.
  • Remove portable storage from the site (barrels and drums etc.) or make them secure.
  • Agricultural sites should consider portable refuelling systems that can be locked in secure storage areas and not left in fields or stock yards.

Domestic tanks

  • Install good security lighting which illuminates your fuel tank – lights on a dusk to dawn circuit are recommended
  • Keep an inventory of how many litres you are using so you can discover thefts immediately.
  • A wooden fence, trellis or wall can give significant protection and should be as close to the tank and as high as possible.  
  • You can buy secure lockable containers for fuel tanks
  • Restrict access to your property by keeping gates locked.
  • Alarms are available which send a text message to a mobile phone if the tank is tampered with.

Vehicles

  • Good practice is often better than expensive security products
  • Consider your business operating procedures and if possible leave vehicles empty overnight and only refuel in the morning.
  • Park vehicles close together to restrict access to fuel tanks
  • Park private, farm and agriculture vehicles under lighting, within view of any CCTV or parked close to your property.

Livestock worrying

This is when a person who owns or is in charge of a dog which worries livestock on any agricultural land commits the offence of livestock worrying. The term ‘worrying’ means:

  • attacking livestock
  • chasing livestock in such a way as may be reasonably expected to cause injury or suffering; in the case of ewes, this includes abortion or loss or reduction in the number of offspring;
  • not having a dog on a lead or under close control when close by, or in a field or enclosure with livestock.

Advice for dog owners

  • Always keep dogs on the lead when walking them in rural areas where livestock are kept
  • Be aware that even small lap dogs can attack farm animals
  • Report attacks by dogs and sightings of dogs roaming the countryside to local farmers or the police
  • Familiarise puppies with farm livestock from a young age to reduce the risk of them attacking sheep or cattle as adult dogs
  • Don’t let dogs loose in gardens adjoining livestock fields – many attacks are caused by dogs that escape and worry sheep grazing nearby

Cyber crime

With so much farm business, accounting and transactions now being managed online, it is important that you ensure that you are protected against this type of theft.

Protect your business

  • Banking Organisations or the police will never ask you for details such as your PIN or online banking passwords and never ask you to transfer money to a safe account
  • Scam emails from banks or HMRC can look convincing, details including “dear customer” , unusual email addresses of the sender and poor spelling can be give-aways
  • Take care when clicking on links or attachments contained within emails from unknown sources
  • Computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer - never allow remote access
  • If you are asked via an email or letter to change the details you hold for a supplier’s account, check with them first by telephone using a number that you know to be genuine
  • Always check the security settings in your device and make sure your device is fitted with reputable anti-virus software
  • Back up your data to an  independent source on a regular basis and download updates for security apps as soon as you are prompted
  • Be wary of buying farm equipment online, fraudulent advertisements are often placed involving a hoax vehicle at a bargain price and asking for money to be transferred directly  - only pay for the vehicle when you physically collect it from the seller and never part with any money for a vehicle you have not seen or inspected
  • Remember the fraudsters may already have basic information about you in their possession, so do not assume a caller is genuine because they have these details

Farmwatch Scheme

Farmers and members of the rural community can join the Northumberland Police Farmwatch scheme

This is a network designed to alert residents to any criminal or suspicious activity, share crime prevention advice and make appeals for information

By signing up to the scheme, you will be kept informed of crime in your area, receive a monthly news bulletin, crime prevention advice and appeals for information about suspicious people or vehicles.

To find out more about Farmwatch, please contact crime.prevention@northumbria.pnn.police.uk

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