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Protecting my animals

A farmer's property is spread over many acres with stock and equipment often portable and easy to steal. Most farms are easy to get to, making total security impossible - but a lot can still be done to reduce the risks.

The Farmhouse

Farmhouses can attract burglars as they are often large and in isolated places.

  • Fit British Standard deadlocks to all outside doors, reinforced with strong bolts, preferably key-operated. Window locks should be fitted on ground-floor windows and those near flat roofs and drainpipes.
  • The main door should have a security chain and wide-angle door viewer.
  • A burglar alarm is extremely beneficial, but is often a last line of defense. Most only warn when someone has broken into your house. Your first priority should be to stop them getting that far.
  • Keep shotguns, firearms and ammunition in an approved and securely locked place at all times in accordance with the legislation.
  • If you have cash or jewellery in the house, have a safe. Keep a record of your valuable possessions.
  • Where possible, use a security-marking device to mark them with your postcode, house number or the first two letters of your farm's name.
  • Photograph your most valuable items – use a ruler in the photograph to indicate scale.
  • Don't advertise you're not at home by leaving notes for traders, or garage doors open.
  • When your house is empty ask a neighbor or your local Farmwatch members to keep an eye on your farm - be prepared to do the same for them!

Keep up-to-date on current crime trends in your area. A good way to do this is to join your Farmwatch group via our Community Connect System so you can be kept up-to-date with local information.

Encourage employees to be security conscious, looking out for strange vans or cars that should not be there – a registration number could prove useful to police. It's very important to have adequate insurance cover against the theft of vehicles, equipment and livestock etc, plus home contents and other buildings. Your insurance company can provide advice on how to secure your specific assets.

Farm buildings

Store any valuable equipment and tools, such as chainsaws, welding and cutting equipment, vehicle spares and riding tack, in secure buildings behind strong locked doors, or/and build a metal storage cage inside a building and keep it locked. Consider fitted audible alarms to the secure areas.

Where possible use a high visibility marking process on machinery and other similar property this will help to devalue the goods on the secondhand market.

Use British Standard locks, good quality locking bars and high security padlocks. Windows can be protected with metal bars. Always lock outbuildings when not in use.

Thieves don't like well-lit areas. Fit outside security lights controlled by an automatic time switch or infrared beams, which react to heat or movement. Consider fitting an intruder alarm or CCTV to alert you to anything suspicious.

Products can be found here.

Protect your livestock

Thieves can and do target grazing animals. A vehicle would need to be involved in such a crime - there are ways that you can combat this:

  • Be vigilant, make regular checks and encourage your neighbours to report the presence of strange vehicles.
  • If livestock is stolen, it is important that you can give police an accurate description.
  • Keep your hedges, fences and gates in good repair. Ditches form a natural barrier.
  • Field gate hinges should have capping hinges so they can't be removed easily.
  • Cattle grids should be removable and locked out of position when they're not in use. Use locking posts to obstruct large openings to yards, etc.
  • Take photographs of particularly valuable animals it makes it easier to identify them at a later date.

Protect your horses

  • Criminals who target horses are not usually opportunist and they know what they are looking for and have probably visited the area a number of times before, so will come prepared.
  • Saddles, tack and rugs have been targeted due to the demand for this equipment increasing. Tack rooms and stables are not usually built with security in mind, and many owners do not like to use locks due to the risk of fire.
  • Mark tack, saddles and accessories so that they are identifiable and also less attractive to the thief and should be locked in the farmhouse and not left in or around the stables. Northants Police offer a free saddle marking service contact for more information contact the Wildlife Crime Officer.
  • Use freeze marking or hoof branding to make horses and ponies identifiable. In July 2009 legislation was introduced that all foals born after this date and horses obtaining a first passport have to be microchipped, older horses do not have to be microchipped but this doesn't prevent you from doing this so ask your vet for more details. Once the microchip is registered, the Police, RSPCA, Council Inspectors, Vets or any other persons who may check for a microchips can consult the databases to find its' owner.
  • For future reference, take photographs of your animal and expensive equipment. This will make it easier to make a positive identification of your animal.
  • Northants Police work alongside Northamptonshire Horsewatch with links to the National Horsewatch Alliance.

Diesel Thefts

Throughout the year farms and businesses suffer from the theft of diesel and heating oil from their premises. The thieves who steal this property are not concerned whether it is red or white diesel that is stolen. This makes all property where diesel is stored vulnerable to this crime. These thefts are known to occur both during the day and night. You can assist in preventing these thefts by considering the following precautions:

  • When your yard is empty and you are working away ensure that it can be secured effectively
  • Ensure that your diesel tank/pump has some form of substantial locking device on it or alarm system
  • Report any suspicious vehicles entering your yard to the Police with details of make, model, registration, colour, any markings/phone numbers displayed, number of occupants and any descriptions

Your consideration of the points above for diesel will assist in both the prevention and detection of these crimes.

Machinery, tools and plant equipment

If possible, secure or immobilise vehicles or pieces of equipment when they're not in use. Again, if practical, try to move machinery from fields, especially if it's near a road. Always keep tools, etc, locked way out of sight or with wheel and hitch locks.

To help identify your property:

  • Use engravers or welders to mark vehicles and equipment with your postcode, followed by the first two letters of your farm's name.
  • Keep a record of serial, chassis and model numbers.
  • Consider fitting trackers to your most valuable vehicles. (Trackers are becoming cheaper now and should be looked at seriously for all vehicles)
  • When buying plant and machinery make the relevant checks to ensure that you are not inadvertently purchasing stolen goods.

TER - The National Plant Theft Register or, if it is Data tagged (Ceasar) check the manufacturer, they may have a database of stolen items such as Ifor Williams Trailers for example. The registering of your vehicle on these databases can prove to be very useful in the aid to recovery.

Ammonium Nitrate on Farms

As we are all aware there is a continuing threat of terrorism within the United Kingdom from a number of sources. One of the most easily accessible ingredients of explosive devices is Ammonium Nitrate. This substance is readily available on most farms. At this time we ask that you be vigilant, check your stocks on a regular basis and if you have any unexplained discrepancies report it to the police straight away.

The security of pesticides and chemicals is an integral to your security procedures, and the following websites will guide you through the processes you need to adhere to.


Quad Crime

In Northamptonshire there are a substantial number of quads stolen each year. These thefts happen all year round but there is an increase in number during the spring and autumn when these vehicles are seen out working on farmland.Most thefts occur over night when quads are parked up, measures can be taken to help prevent these thefts some of these are:

  • Ensure that the quad is stored in substantial and appropriately secured building
  • Consider alarming the storage building
  • Always remove the keys
  • Fit physical security to assist in preventing movement of your quad
  • Have some form of identity coding applied to the quad with notices posted to this effect

A tracking device fitted to your quad will provide an effective and efficient investment in aiding the fast recovery of your vehicle in the event that it is stolen.

Wildlife crime

If you witness a suspected wildlife crime in progress call 999 immediately or call 101 for other non-emergency wildlife incidents.

Wildlife legislation is in place to protect wild birds, animals, plants and their habitats. Northants Police has a team of full and part time Police Officers who are trained in dealing with wildlife crime issues and we also work in close association with other organisations such as the RSPCA, RSPB, Natural England, Environment Agency and local wildlife trusts and groups. Wildlife Crime officers provide advice and guidance to Police Officers, patrols in rural locations and speak at schools and local groups as well as attending countryside events.

What is wildlife crime? It can be people buying, selling, harming or disturbing wild animals or plants that are protected by law.

Incidents and crimes that are usually reported relate to;

  • Wild Birds – Killing, injuring or taking wild birds, take, damage or destroy their nests whilst it is in use or being built, or in some cases all year round or taking or destroying eggs from the wild. Possession or control of any wild bird in contravention with legislation.
  • Badgers –cruelly treating, taking/injuring/killing badgers. Obstructing/damaging/disturbing/destroying/allowing a dog to enter a sett. Reports of badger baiting with dogs.
  • Bats – killing/injuring bats and disturbing or damaging/destoying their roosts or impairing their ability to survive, breed, reproduce or hibernate.
  • Other European protected species – protection of animals such as bats, otters, dormouse, great crested newts and certain protected species of plants
  • Hunting and poaching – The use of dogs in hare coursing and/or to hunt foxes and also illegal trespass onto land to take wildlife/game such as deer with dogs or firearms.
  • Trapping/Poisoning – use of illegal traps and pesticides/poisons
  • Flora – theft/sale of wildflowers and plants
  • Habitat – SSSIs – damage to protected sites
  • Endangered species – CITES covers protected species from all over the world, whether dead, reduced into goods such as ivory or taxidermy, or alive such as exotic pets or birds. Offences can be committed when animals or their products are advertised for sale, sold or used commercially without the relevant paperwork being in place.
  • Non-native species – release into the wild of animals and plants that can effect the natural wildlife through spread of disease or damaging the native population such as issues with Japanese knotweed.
  • Hare coursing – autumn and winter are the seasons where this becomes prevalent on the area. Also linked in with this is a general increase in theft of items such as 4x4 vehicles, quads and diesel.

If a crime is currently in progress always call 999



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