Dr Steffan George, development director, Master Locksmith Association
Statistics show rural theft continues to increase – with livestock theft rising by 7 per cent over the last year and tractor theft continuing to blight the sector.
Rural areas present the greatest opportunity for thieves because of isolated houses and buildings, lower lighting – especially during autumn and winter – fewer witnesses, and the abundance of expensive farm machinery.
A recent survey has revealed the true cost of crime for those living and working in rural areas could exceed £800 million, with the average cost to households which are victim of those crimes being more than £2,500.
Therefore, preventing crime in farming communities is a big issue, especially at this time of year. But the attractiveness of rural locations to would-be thieves is not the only issue impacting rural crime figures.
While many farmers are installing tracker devices to their vehicles to combat organised crime, they may be tempted to cut back on security more generally, by buying and fitting cheap locks.
Tracker devices can seem like a good idea but most of the time criminals will have exported items before the owner realises it is missing. The problem needs to be addressed earlier by trying to stop the theft from occurring in the first place, with proper security and protection.
Fitting incorrect or low quality products can undermine security and affect insurance premiums and cover.
This is why it is important for farmers to regularly review security on their premises and invest in good quality security equipment. Thieves are always looking for worn locks and easy entry points.
While security comes at a cost, it is not as great as the one faced when land and property is targeted by thieves.
Hiring a local, vetted and inspected professional to review your security and install approved products could also save a lot of money in the long-term – many locksmiths offer security assessments free of charge or for a low cost.
Security products, such as chains, padlocks, wheel clamps etc, should ideally be independently tested to ensure maximum protection – look for the Sold Secure approval mark.
Taking these precautions and investing in the right equipment will put farmers in the best position when it comes to protecting land and property, saving money in the long run.