My friend Eliza came home from a horse ride on her remote property a few weeks ago to find a strange car parked near her house. Her dogs were going crazy with fear and excitement- something was really wrong.

A man came running out of her house carrying bags full of her valuables. He threatened to kill her and drove off, but not before she opened the passenger side door of his car and grabbed back her property.

Brave? Possibly. Dangerous? Absolutely – Eliza is a farmer and not easily intimidated.

Once the adrenaline died down and she managed to stop shaking, she went into the house to assess the damage. Gun cabinets that had been well hidden were found and ripped open. Luckily, she had buried all of the bolts, sights and ammunition elsewhere – he couldn’t find them.

It may have been a very different story otherwise.

So- he trashed the house, broke what he could and stole what was portable.

Eliza doesn’t go out nearly so often since then, and it has had an enormous impact on both her and her family. Police said the offender had been on a two-State rampage, terrorising and stealing from remote properties along the way.

Rural and remote properties have become targets for burglary, stock theft, fuel siphoning, illegal dumping, hunting and fishing, and machinery and equipment theft. That’s just for starters- then there’s vandalism, illegal cropping, water theft and gun theft. The list is long and alarming.

What can we do to deter and prevent farm crime?

Studies have shown that farm crime is likely when it’s easy for motivated offenders to access what they want and nobody is around to stop them.

Stockyards unlocked next to the road; homes unlocked and unattended; sheds full of equipment open and unsecured; machinery full of fuel with unlocked tanks; and small tools left out in the open or an unlocked shed.

Authorities say that a considerable amount of farm crime goes unreported- what can anyone do without evidence or knowing when or where incidents occurred?

Taking simple steps to protect yourself from farm crime can make a big difference:

  • Locking gates, doors, windows and sheds with quality locks
  • Making sure animals are all tagged and registered
  • Keeping fuel tanks locked and keys secured;
  • Engraving tools and equipment for identification;
  • Ensuring fences are solid and well maintained.

There are many resources and checklists available from Farm Crime Units and local law enforcement to help landowners.

One of the most effective farm safety measures is a video security system that is visible, constantly recording, and monitored back to a PC or smart device. It acts as a deterrent, collects evidence and shows anyone thinking about causing trouble that you are serious about your security. It gives you eyes on your property, even when you’re not around.

Eliza is doing OK. She now understands that farm crime doesn’t just happen to other people and is working through a list of security measures. She has installed a solid lock on her front gate, invested in next-level firearms safes and is thinking seriously about a farm video system.