How to stop a thief

The caution comes from out west, but the message fits all: With an increase in rural crime, do what’s needed to lock down your valuable farm property.

Julene Reese of Utah State University quotes Extension ag agent Clark Israelsen as saying some of the most common items stolen are gasoline and diesel fuel, especially where large quantities are stored. Feeds, produce, tools, fertilizer, livestock and field equipment are also common targets.

Israelsen adds that law enforcement officials note a fundamental element of rural crime is opportunity. Criminals are seeking opportunities to steal without being seen, without taking much time and without making much noise. Farms are ideal targets because of the relative isolation.

So what to do? The Utah Extension agent offers a pretty good list. Here’s a quick look:

• Go around your property and look at it through the eyes of a thief, but do vary your routine.

• Construct sturdy, secure sheds with high-quality locks. Use strong chains and locks on all gates, access routes and loading ramps. Mark or stamp tools and equipment with a permanent ID number.

• Form a ‘rural watch group’ to look after each other’s farms.

• Install security lighting around sheds, storage facilities with lights operating on time switches or sensors.

• Lock fuel storage tanks and have lockable fuel caps on all tractors and vehicles. Park machinery close to your home or headquarters if possible. If nothing else, hide it behind a treeline or other obstacle. Remove keys and lock the cab on machinery and consider disabling machinery by removing the distributor cap, rotor or battery. Don’t leave tools in vehicle trays.

• Use animals as deterrents. A good watchdog would help and even geese are good noisemakers.

• Keep photographs or video records of property. Inventory livestock on a daily basis, but not at the same time each day. Make sure all animals are marked for identification. Photograph valuable animals.

• Keep a record of past employees, especially if there has been a dispute or a firing.

That’s a pretty good list, but there are probably others out there. If you have something to offer on theft prevention, help out others by offering up a comment. It could make a big difference in somebody’s day.

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