Lock them up

Do you lock your vehicles when you park them in the farmyard? If not, think about changing that habit. It’s a different world from the seemingly safer one that many of us recall from our growing-up-on-the-farm years.
I’m about 30 years distant from those but locking vehicles wasn’t common practice back then. Not on our ranch and not on the farms and ranches of any of my friends. If you needed the pickup or the car or the grain truck, chances were that you could jump into the cab, fire it up and proceed about your business.
There was no need for those potentially time-consuming tasks of finding the keys and unlocking the doors before roaring off on the errand. Or the potentially troubling loss of said keys, requiring a search for duplicates, a tricky vehicle break-in, a call to a service person or an extra trip into town for new keys.
Farmers and ranchers have to be more circumspect about security now. As a regular reader of RCMP media releases, I’ve concluded that thieves are becoming bolder when it comes to rural farmyard visits.
Last week, RCMP in the Unity, Wilkie and Macklin areas of Saskatchewan reported theft of a 2009 Silverado from a farm north of Wilkie. At about the same time, a 2011 Ford F150 was stolen from another farm near the same town. Then another Ford F150 was reported stolen from a business in Macklin less than a day later.
Based on the warnings from the RCMP, it sounds as though the keys were in these vehicles at the time they were stolen. Or maybe the owners were a bit more wily, to no avail, based on this note from the police: “RCMP are suggesting the removal of any hidden keys left in the glove box or console, which gives thieves the ability to drive away behind the wheel of a stolen vehicle and commit further offences.”
On Nov. 17, the RCMP Battlefords detachment found nine stolen vehicles, all of them reported in the Battlefords, Biggar and Wilkie areas. On Nov. 21, another six stolen vehicles were found “in various remote locations” within 30 kilometres of the Battlefords.
Three young people were arrested in connection with the findings.
Court proceedings will determine if these three are the guilty parties. But their short-lived success in vehicle thievery should give all farmers pause.
Locking vehicles isn’t difficult. Keeping track of the keys on operations when there are a lot of vehicles to lock is more inconvenient, but not as inconvenient and expensive as having vehicles stolen and either damaged or permanently lost.
Now that I’m a “townie,” I always lock my vehicle. Or almost always. I feel a bit sheepish doing it when I visit someone’s farmyard to conduct an interview or buy produce. It feels sort of like I don’t trust the host folks, or that I’ve become obsessed by personal property protection. And besides, if I’m there and the hosts are there, who would have the gall to steal a vehicle from under our noses?
Sadly, some people have gall to spare. Though we may mourn the disappearance of times when people seemed to be more honest and less prone to thievery, we can’t let it get in the way of precaution.
Lock the vehicles and figure out a way to keep keys handy yet secure.

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