Security: rural crime

Rural crime is a scourge throughout Europe. Tractor and machinery theft, vandalism and burglary rates are on the rise everywhere. However, concrete figures are hard to find. Often, the stolen goods are not reported to the police or not insured. Our sector is particularly susceptible to criminal action because of the openness of agricultral land and yards and the often remote nature of the farms. However, there are a number of simple measures that can increase safety.

Wanting to start work and then finding that a tractor, installation or machine has been stolen. To find the door of the stable or barn broken open. Graffiti on greenhouses or stables. Waste illegally dumped on your field. Plants or trees that have been damaged or destroyed. These are the typical examples of rural crime cases. Persons with bad intentions have all the time they need to do their thing, because they are not immediately visible in a remote yard, behind a barn or in a plantation. In addition, most of the farms are also freely accessible along multiple roads so criminals can freely come and go without being noticed. Easy access and little control make a farm extra vulnerable.

When we talk about criminal activities in rural areas, we can divide them into a number of categories. In this article, Farmers of Europe offers a number of prevention tips per category to improve safety and prevent possible theft or vandalism.

Building security
Farms are usually remote and an easy target for burglars. As a farmer, you are working in and around the farmyard all day long and so, you might quickly get into the bad habit of not locking one or more doors. Barns and stables are also often left open. This makes it extra easy for burglars. Here are some things you can do to better protect your home and other buildings:

  • Close all doors and windows that are not in frequent use.
    If you go away from home, lock all the doors and take the key with you.
  • Set up an alarm.
  • Place a safety grille in front of extra vulnerable windows (e.g. the one in the office where money is also stored).
  • Make sure that cellar doors cannot be opened from outside.
  • Keep important items such as money, property papers, spare keys and the like in a safe.

A safe yard also contributes to a safe home. A few simple interventions can significantly increase the safety of the yard.

  • Make sure that the yard can be closed with (automatic) gates.
  • (Infrared) detectors will warn you when someone enters the yard.
  • Automatic lighting with motion detectors immediately make the yard unattractive to someone with bad intentions. When installing such lighting, make sure that the dark corners are also highlighted.
  • A camera system can help identify criminals.
  • A dog is not only a loyal friend, but can also sound the alarm when people come into the yard. In need, it can also offer protection.
  • It is said that geese prevented the conquest of Rome. They can also protect your yard. Empty space between 2 sheds can become a meadow for geese, who will let you know loud and clear when something is wrong.

Sheds and stables can be easily secured.

  • Provide all gates and doors with sturdy locks.
  • Make sure that all but 1 of the gates and doors can only be opened and closed from the inside. This makes it more difficult for burglars to break them open.
  • Motion detectors can trigger a (silent) alarm or activate the lighting.

Securing machines and tools
If your machines are kept in a locked shed, the chance of theft is already smaller, but still remains. However, machines are rarely kept in a locked shed, many are even kept in the open air. How can you easily secure machines and tools?

  • Store all machines in a locked warehouse.
  • Never leave the keys on a tractor, combine harvester or machinery. Keep the keys in a locked key box in a separate room in the shed or better yet, in another building (your house for example).
  • Provide machines that are not stored in a warehouse with a (hidden) marking by engraving or welding a number/letter combination onto them. This ensures that your machines are recognisable, even after they have been repainted, for example.
  • Provide machines equipped with a trailer hitch with trailer hitch lock. Wheel clamps are also a possibility.
  • Install an anti-theft system on machines or tractors. Such a system can send out an alarm when the machine or tractor is moved or when it goes outside certain limits. A GPS system can also be used to track a stolen machine.
  • Store (valuable) tools in a locked case or container.

Animal security
Unfortunately, animal theft is not uncommon either. Animals that are kept in an enclosed stable can easily be secured, however, this is quite different when they are kept on remote pastures.

  • Regularly check the enclosure on your pastures, both permanent and temporary ones.
  • Make sure there is only one access to the pasture. If this is not possible, block the additional accesses when they are not used daily.
  • Make sure that gates cannot be easily lifted.
  • Install one or more wildlife cameras so you have evidence if something does occur.


Other forms of security
With the security of yard, buildings, animals and machinery, the most important things on the farm are covered. However, there are a number of things that can also contribute to increased safety.

  • Plant a wild hedge around your farm or remote sheds. Make sure there are plants with thorns in your hedge.
  • Dig a deep ditch around your farm, so vehicles don’t get to your property easily.
  • Place rocks, concrete blocks or root stumps on (field) roads that are no longer in use. This prevents unwanted traffic.
  • Place (wildlife) cameras along (field) roads that are rarely used.
  • Close roads by means of a chain and a “No Entry” sign. In the event of a dispute, an offender will not be able to say that he was not warned.


A number of the measures mentioned above can be applied without great expense. Consistently adhering to these measures will certainly increase safety on and around your farm. Some proposed measures have a certain cost, but this cost is negligible compared to the loss of a tractor or machine. In certain countries, insurance companies take into account whether you took precautions or not. Be sure to check with your insurance company.

Do you have any tips for increased safety? Let us know via the form included in the original article (click here)!


This article appeared in Farmers of Europe 1-2021

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Author: Kim Schoukens

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