Consider farm security to keep crime in check

Farmers and rural residents, at least in Saskatchewan, are sick of crime and criminals.

Break-ins, vandalism and personal protection dominated the conversation at this year’s annual meeting of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, as councillors and reeves debated more than 10 resolutions on the topic.

Chris Sobchuk, ag division manager for Allen Leigh Security and Communications in Brandon, has heard many shocking stories of break-ins and theft from farmyards during more than 20 years in the business. But it seems like criminals have become more determined or desperate in recent years.

“They see the value of that stuff inside the cab of the tractor, that GPS guidance system… and they want to get in,” he said. “(With) the drugs and guys dependent on it, they’re doing whatever they can to support that habit.”

Consequently, Sobchuk and other firms in the trade are getting more inquiries about farm security systems. Property owners should consider a number of security options, depending on type and size of farm:

Newer homes have thick insulation and high quality windows, which is great in January but makes it difficult to hear vehicles and people entering the property.

Sobchuk said there are a number of driveway alert systems on the market, including motion detectors and infrared beams.

“You could almost call it a laser beam that goes across (the driveway).

Another option is a magnetic probe that operates like a metal detector, reducing the risk of false alarms from wildlife.

“All of these (detectors) will basically send a message back to the home receiver and (set) a chime off.”

The driveway alert can also be linked to lights and sirens. A vehicle entering the property would trigger the system, sending a warning message to the intruder.

Similar alert systems can also be installed for shop doors and grain bins.

In a city, it’s usually easy for a homeowner to peek outside a window and see what’s going on in the yard. On an acreage or large farmyard it’s more difficult to see everything, but high-resolution video cameras can solve that problem.

Cameras can be linked to a smartphone, tablet or computer. Knowing who or what is in the yard can help prevent a nasty altercation.

“If they hear something, they can turn on the camera, versus going out themselves to investigate, because they don’t know what they’re up against,” Sobchuk said.

If a camera detects a trespasser, farmers and rural residents may need a protocol to alert neighbours.

RCMP corporal Mel Zurevinsky, who spoke at the SARM meeting, said rural crime watch programs improve communication and co-ordination between rural residents.

“Belong to a rural crime watch or a… calling list with your neigh-bours,” Sobchuk said. “If something does go crazy, then you’re able to phone them and they’re able to phone (others).”

All terrain vehicles have always been popular targets for thieves. They’re small, mobile and often have a high price tag.

Many owners chain ATVs, snowmobiles and motorcycles, but another option is a GPS tracking device. The small and fairly inexpensive systems can help police find stolen vehicles.

Last year, such a system was used to recover a Kubota tractor, taken from the headquarters of a utility service company in Ontario. When thieves moved the machine off the property, the GPS tracker sent an email alert to the business owner. He called the police and provided the co-ordinates of the tractor. The machine was returned an hour after the phone call.

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