According to the National Crime Justice Reference Services, theft and other agricultural criminal activities result in almost $5 billion in damages in the US every year. Even if your farm hasn’t been hit yet, why risk it? By protecting your farm from theft, you can save thousands of dollars each year.
How to Prevent Farm Theft?
Here are some of the top ways you can discourage thieves and vandals from bleeding you dry:
1. Keep Rooms and Sheds Locked At All Times
Would you leave your home unlocked when you head to the store or visit family in the city? Your tack rooms, gates, barns, etc, are also susceptible to theft in your absence. Locks won’t stop experienced and ambitious thieves. They can break them easily with heavy stones or pick them to get to the goods inside. Prevent that from happening by welding a metal cover over the locks. These cannot be removed easily, and if they try to take a welding iron to these, the sparks can be seen from a mile away.
2. Install Remote Cameras
Consider installing security cameras if you don’t have electricity or WIFI on your property. These can allow you to monitor areas with expensive tools and animals without a security guard. Depending on your options, footage can also be archived for future viewing. If one of your staff steals from you, you will have ample video evidence pinning them to the crime. So what if you don’t have WIFI? Opt for security cameras that record videos in real-time and can be viewed later.
3. Erect Physical Barriers
If you are expanding your farm or getting more livestock, fences should be a priority. Besides a fence and gates, there are several other ways you can create barriers that will deter thieves.
Plant thorny hedges
Thorny hedges not only deter people from stealing your expensive farming assets such as tools and livestock, but they can also give predators a painful reminder to keep away from your property. Line your property with blackberry, rose, or other thorny bushes, and they will think twice before trespassing.
Use damaged or unusable heavy equipment as fences
Don’t sell or dump damaged machinery or heavy equipment. Repurpose them as heavy-duty (and free) fences by lining them up around your property or existing fences. Unless they get a crane or tractor to move them, thieves won’t be able to move them to access the fence which they can cut.
4. Get a Watchdog
You don’t need to get a trained guard dog to protect your farm. A watchdog will be enough to scare away predators and thieves. Sheepdogs are extremely territorial and will bark to alert the presence of strangers, stray dogs, coyotes, foxes, and other predators. These dogs need to be trained, so they don’t become a problem for other farmers or your family. You can get one as a puppy, but don’t hesitate to rescue a full-grown dog from a shelter.
5. Consider An Owner Applied Number (OAN) Program
The Owner-Applied Number (OAN) program was established by the FBI, and it can prove invaluable if your farm property is stolen. Participants are given a unique 10-digit number which can be used to identify your county, state, and your identity. This number can be stamped on farm property, such as tractors and tools, so local authorities know to whom they must return them if they are stolen. Most thieves hesitate to take items that have an OAN on them. Hundreds of pieces of equipment stolen each year don’t have this number.
Farming equipment doesn’t come cheap. Even if you can afford replacements, that is money that can be utilized elsewhere. Prevent farm theft by using the tips mentioned above and if you run into legal hurdles, get in touch with expert agricultural lawyer Jillian Hishaw. A MacArthur Foundation recipient, Hishaw has over 20 years of experience in agricultural law and policy. She has also authored several books and offers several budget-friendly service packages. She was inspired to help farmers after her family lost their land to land-grabbers and runs a non-profit that aids small farmers who are dependent on tight budgets.