Whether you’re brand new to homesteading or an old farmhand with years of experience, protecting your investment is a big deal. Once you’ve invested in the right piece of land, livestock, and equipment to turn your property into a self-sufficient homestead or profitable farming business, you can’t afford to lose all that hard work to theft.
To protect what’s yours from criminals who target rural areas, and to avoid falling victim to farm crime, try these important tips to keep your homestead secure:
Keep Clear Records of Your Belongings – Including Animals
To help provide accurate information to law enforcement and your insurance company, it’s crucial to keep up-to-date records of your belongings. Take pictures of your farm equipment and record the VIN and any license and registration information. You’ll also need to keep track of your livestock. Tagging is important for large animals — especially those that roam to graze — but you’ll also want to get in the habit of making a headcount for the most accurate record of your property.
Take Nighttime Precautions
You may have fallen in love with that starry country sky, but the lack of lighting on rural roads can also have its downsides. With lots of darkness to hide in, thieves can make their way onto your property unprotected, especially during a new moon or under cloud cover. Make their job harder by getting motion-detecting lights or a trusty guard dog with a loud bark, and you’ll scare away many nogoodniks before they get anywhere near your house or barn.
Add Fencing as a Theft Deterrent
A good fence won’t just keep your animals in — it will also keep criminals out. Deterring crimes of convenience by making it difficult for thieves to get at your valuables is a good strategy. You can consider high fencing around pasture to protect livestock or around your whole perimeter for added protection. When choosing a fence, be sure to research a custom gate fit to your farm’s needs as well.
Modern technology provides a few more ways to outsmart potential thieves on your farm. You can consider adding surveillance cameras in a visible location on your farm, such as entrances and exits, plus any less-obvious gates. These cameras will act as a deterrent to make crooks think twice, and they’ll also provide valuable information to the police in the event that you do get robbed. They just might help you recover your stolen items.
Keeping lights around your farm on variable timers can help it look like your homestead is more active than it really is. Instead of feeding your animals at the exact same time every day, vary your routine so you don’t give clever criminals a chance to track and predict your movements. Having lights in the barn, workshop, and house click on and off at different times each day will also help keep thieves guessing.
Hide the Good Stuff
It’s important to remember that what you consider most valuable might not be what criminals are most interested in, so take a look around your homestead from a different point of view. Many thieves are looking to strip copper fittings for their high value, so replace copper pipes or keep your materials out of sight. Still, others are looking for fertilizers or other chemicals like anhydrous ammonia to cook meth.
Though it’s unlike to occur to small homesteaders, some farms are vulnerable to protesters looking to destroy GMO seed or chemical fertilizer to take an environmental stand. If you own any of these items, take extra care to keep them under lock and key at all times, and keep them out of view.
Cooperate With Police
The trouble with owning a large piece of property is that it may take time before you notice a breach in the perimeter or missing valuables or animals. If you do suspect you’ve been robbed, call the police right away, and do your best to present all the evidence, supporting photographs, and paperwork you can. You’ll also need to refrain from altering the crime scene at all, so work to corral animals elsewhere and limit access until the police arrive to help.
If you put these seven precautions into place, you’ll greatly diminish the odds of falling victim to farm crime. Life in the country is mostly peaceful and satisfying, but sometimes trouble does occur. By being aware of potential problems and working to proactively prevent them, your homestead will be a much safer place.