Even ‘seasoned veteran’ farmers are sometimes shocked at the scale of livestock theft they suddenly encounter.
One recent theft involved over 700 sheep from a farm, though incredibly the culprits were tracked down and arrested. Much of the flock was returned to the rightful owner.
However, much theft of this nature is never resolved and the losses and stresses can be huge for the farmer concerned. So, here are a few tips about how you can help reduce your risks.
- Where livestock is inside, make sure your premises are protected with locks and alarms. CCTV and PIR sensors are now very affordable and should also be considered.
- There are various forms of animal tagging and identification systems – the specifics may vary depending upon which country and/or state you’re in. Make sure you use them and also consider other non-removable ways of marking your animals to make them easily identifiable. That in itself won’t stop the theft physically but it might deter some thieves who want ‘quick disposal’ afterwards and a limited chance of identification of the animals concerned.
- When livestock is outside, don’t make it easy for thieves by leaving things that could be used to help the loading of animals (e.g. loading ramps or some forms of agricultural machinery ) near your perimeters at night. Keep that sort of equipment somewhere central under lock-and-key instead.
- If the animals concerned are particularly valuable, prime breeding stock might be an example, then you might wish to consider hidden trackers. These can be almost undetectable and if acted upon promptly by the authorities, the result can be the fast arrest of the thieves.
- Work with your neighbours and other farmers in the area to form mutual support groups. Take notes of vehicles and registrations that appear to be strange to the area and ‘hanging around’ for no obvious reason. Contact the police sooner rather than later. They’ll go and check things out and if all is legitimate then fine. If not, it’s a theft prevented. In passing, most police services would far rather prevent crime than detect it after the event, so they won’t worry about the time invested in this sort of prevention.
- If you don’t already, keep a dog on your property. OK, it’s perhaps not a viable deterrent for your fields a long way away from your home base but it will be a powerful deterrent to thieves looking to pick up some of your animals that are being held locally. Most livestock thieves REALLY detest dogs.
- Don’t travel around your land to a set routine. Surprisingly, many thefts happen not in the dead of night but during broad daylight. If you have a certain routine which means you’re never in XYZ location until late in the evening, then thieves can get to know that and consider the rest of the day to be safe from your arrival. So, deliberately vary your schedule as much as possible.
There is, of course, no sure-fire way to guarantee the safety of your stock but some of the above steps might help.