Farms, like any other business, bring their own set of security threats and challenges, several recent events highlight the need for farmers to take a closer look at security of their farms.
Last week in Sampson County a farmer reported that a break-in at his local farm had occurred and two pressure washers, an ATV, three weed eaters, assorted power tools and a mini heating unit were among the items stolen. Valued of all the items was $12,000.
A man wandered onto a North Carolina farm last spring and drove off with a $45,000 tractor and $15,000 worth of related equipment.
Last winter about 325,000 chickens were killed in South Carolina, 16 chicken houses on six farms. Vandals bypassed alarm systems to raise or lower temperatures in the houses to kill the birds. The value of the chickens: $1.7 million.
Farmers have security concerns, they are being challenged by vandalism, theft, and destruction of property, and sadly rural areas are becoming as prone to crime as suburbs and inner cities. To combat criminals, farmers need to step up and make some investments in many of the same security solutions that are protecting our school children and government facilities.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” farm security plan, begin by meeting with an experienced security consultant to conduct an all-hazards assessment before spending money on any security. That assessment will look at what needs protecting and other issues such as surrounding properties, roads and onsite buildings.
The assessment will lead to a plan that addresses the specific security concerns of each farm and offers a course of action to mitigate them.
Lighting is vital around areas that house valuable animals and equipment. Good lighting often deters criminals who fear being noticed and apprehended. Also, have standby power available in case of a power failure or cut lines.
Fencing and gates help channel visitors into the farm office and away from other high-value areas. They also act as a barrier that slows access in and out of protected sites. Be sure to inspect fences regularly to make sure they are intact.
Let there be no doubt that the farm is private property. Signage can remind people that they are not to trespass. It can also advise them that the farm has active security systems in place.
Securing any facility or farm begins at the entry, have the driveway gated and locked at all times.
Security cameras offer both a deterrent to criminals, as well as a means of gaining evidence after a crime has been committed. Cameras need to be placed anywhere animals are kept, around valuable equipment and the farm office. Choose cameras that can work well in daylight and low-light situations.
Simple changes can save farmers thousands of dollars due to theft. Engraving the farm name or other personal identifier into ladders and tools will make it more difficult for thieves to pawn them. Also, at the end of each day, put tools into a locked shed.
The same is true of keys, don’t leave them in vehicles. Instead have a key locker that holds all keys when not in use.
There is no guarantee that even the best plans will prevent all future security breaches. But by adding layers of security from the entry to those most valuable resources – the animals – farmers can take significant steps to help control their assets and reduce losses.
Patrick V. Fiel, Sr.is a nationally recognized security expert, based in Wallace, N.C. He has more than 35 years of security experience ranging from helping protect homes, businesses and family farms. For more information, contact him at [email protected] or call 910-789-4265.