Causeway Coast and Glens Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) is reminding rural residents about the importance of farm security this lambing season.
Rural crime costs millions of pounds every year, with a recent NFU Mutual report highlighting losses of over £3m across Northern Ireland in 2019.
The theft of vital machinery can cause immense financial and emotional hardship to farmers which is hugely detrimental to the rural economy. While agricultural vehicles are commonly targeted, a recent rise in prices has resulted in livestock also becoming more attractive to thieves.
And as activity in the countryside increases due to lambing, the PCSP is reminding all farmers and rural dwellers about the need for vigilance and the importance of reporting any suspicious behaviour or vehicles.
PCSP Chairperson, Councillor Oliver McMullan, said: “By its very nature rural crime happens in isolated areas, and we need a joint effort to address it. Causeway Coast and Glens PCSP is asking everyone to keep this in mind particularly in lambing season when valuable livestock and vehicles can be targeted.
“Now is the time for farmers and smallholders to review their security and adopt good crime prevention methods to deter the would-be criminal and protect property. I would appeal to everyone to be alert and support the farming community by reporting any suspicious activity to the PSNI.
“The PCSP pilot rural tracker scheme is still open, allowing successful applicants an opportunity to safeguard their quads, trailers, tractors or all-terrain vehicles with a PROTECT tracker device at a significantly reduced cost. The Partnership is here to help, and we also have other assets including Text Alert and Neighbourhood Watch, so please get in touch with us to find out more.”
Supt. Brian Kee, PSNI service lead for Rural and Wildlife Crime, added: “Reporting any activity that raises your suspicions is a good way to initiate our investigation and will help to deter criminals and reduce crime in your area.
“It could be an unusual vehicle seen parked or travelling on a road in the area, or someone calling and asking for directions. Take a note of the vehicle registration number and a description of the vehicle and pass that on to Police.
“Don’t make life easy for the criminals. Putting frequently used machines away and locking up sheds and outbuildings may seem like a chore you can do without, but it won’t be as inconvenient as having an important and valuable piece of equipment stolen.”
This lambing season farmers and smallholders are urged to take the following measures to keep livestock and property secure:
Restrict access to your property. The fewer ways in the better. Use locked gates or security posts if practicable.
Invert or cap gate hinges to prevent gates being lifted off to provide access.
Keep gates (including yard gates) locked with British Standard close shackle locks.
Regularly check fields where livestock are grazing.
Make your property unique and identifiable, for livestock in addition to keeping records of stock numbers and making regular checks to ensure all is in order, farmers should also record the colour and location of dye markings.
Take photographs of all valuable animals with brand and/or ear tags clearly visible.
ALWAYS remove keys and lock vehicles. Secure or immobilise vehicles, plant, trailers and equipment when not in use. Keep items of value in securely locked sheds, out of sight. Police operate a trailer marking scheme which is free of charge (contact your local crime prevention officer for further information).
Physically secure ATV’s using heavy-duty chains and padlocks or block the machine in with other equipment so that it cannot be pushed away. Consider more sophisticated options include Tracker, CESAR marking systems and immobilisers, which can help, prevent theft and help police retrieve and return recovered items.
Consider fitting alarms and install a CCTV system. Ensure the correct CCTV signage is placed round the perimeter of your property. Signs can be a great deterrent in themselves.
Record items: Keep an inventory of items, including all serial numbers, makes, models and any distinctive damage or marks. Photograph items.
For more information on the PCSP pilot rural trackers scheme and to request an application pack email email@example.com or call 028 2076 2225. The next closing date is 5th March 2021.
Please note that the availability of tracker devices is limited and applications will be marked against a set criteria including crime pattern analysis via the PSNI.