As overall crime declines in the midst of a UK lockdown, police and farm leaders are warning that urban crime could be spilling over to rural areas. While thefts are distressing and potentially costly in themselves, the coronavirus outbreak may also make it more difficult for farmers to get replacements for stolen items.
Offering his top tips for farm security, James Doel of Active Farm Solutions, says one of the biggest challenges is that every farm is unique, so every security system must be unique too. When designing the Active Farm Solutions package, modularity and flexibility were a key part of the process.
While there is no such thing as a ‘blueprint’ for keeping your farm secure, James recommends first looking at your points of entry. Do not be complacent about those that seem too ‘off the beaten track’ to be at risk – in his experience, these can sometimes be the most likely targets.
Once the points of entry are identified, it is about mitigating the risks as best you can.
“I refer to farm security as being like an onion – you work on it in layers,” James says. First look at the points of entry, minimise vehicle access, then bring the layers in closer to sheds, workshops, machinery sheds and high value items. Quad bikes in particular are high on the thief’s agenda.
Taking advice from others is also important, as farms and farmers have become more insular and lack the support they once had. This is where the growing trend for WhatsApp and Facebook groups is encouraging, as they allow farmers to share their experiences and advice. As thieves often work in areas, hitting a number of farms in a night or a few days, this can be particularly useful.
Other general top tips include looking at shed locks, making sure vehicles are locked and not left with the keys nearby, and not leaving labelled keys all together in one bunch.
Although CCTV can be useful, unless it is monitored night and day, as a standalone solution it is really only beneficial in providing information after a theft has taken place, James explains. Active Farm Solutions works differently, he adds, and involves installing a hub with a dedicated aerial. Once in place, farmers can be and choose which modular products they require.
Products include battery-powered door/gate sensors, which provide alerts via SMS and email if opened by unauthorised persons; motion sensors to notify of unauthorised movements of fixed or mobile assets; and perimeter protection using light beam sensors.
AFS cameras work alongside GPS, gate/door, motion and perimeter protection to give users alerts so they can view incidents on the camera app, and either call the emergency services or deter thieves by turning on lights etc. Every farm has its own admin control software so that alerts can be tailored to the farmer and specific circumstances, minimising false alarms.
By registering with AFS’s monitoring and recovery system, stolen items can also be located and recovered. The service has a success rate of over 90 per cent for returning stolen assets, compared to the average of just nine per cent.
For further information, visit: https://activefarmsolutions.co.uk