As a farmer, it’s important to invest in a security system that you can trust to keep your crops safe. Rural crime is more common than you might think, as millions of dollars of farm property are stolen every year. If you’re on the receiving end of an ill-timed farm heist, it could undermine your businesses’ financial stability and can also make your team feel unsafe. Investing in a great security system is the best way to make sure that your farm doesn’t fall victim to any form of rural crime. Here are some of the most effective ways to make sure your farm stays totally secure.
1. Security Cameras
There are huge benefits to installing a reliable security system on your property. Having video cameras that are visible throughout your property is a very effective way to deter anyone that might want to sneak onto your property. Monitoring your security cameras can also help you catch potential criminals earlier, and identify them after the fact to ensure they are properly prosecuted. Many modern cameras will sync with your smartphone or computer, so you can check the video feed wherever you are. You can also use your video system to keep track of your daily operations and make sure your farm is running smoothly.
In order for your security cameras to be effective, they need to have clear resolution. With a clear picture, it’s much easier to identify a criminal’s defining facial features or even catch license plate details from any vehicles on the scene. 1080P is a good base resolution you should expect from your farm camera, but ideally the resolution should be even higher. The most popular are 4K security cameras that are 8MP in resolution. There are many places throughout your farm where you should be using security cameras, including entrances and exits, holding pens, supply areas, and anywhere you keep valuable items. Ideally, you should have both hidden and visible cameras - visible cameras act as a good deterrent for criminals, but it’s often the hidden cameras that catch them in the act. You’ll want to make sure your cameras are placed in an area where they can’t be easily tampered with.
2. Motion Sensors
To increase the efficacy of your security system, consider installing motion sensors at key points throughout your farm. These sensors will trigger an alarm if they detect unusual movement, which usually will deter a thief immediately. In some cases, these motion sensors can be set up to alert law enforcement if there is any unusual motion on your property. You can manually turn the sensors on and off as needed, so they won’t go off during the day when your team is working. Some farms have taken this strategy even further and use infrared sensors, which detect unusual heat patterns. While sensors aren’t foolproof, integrating them with the rest of your security camera system will increase your chances of capturing any criminals.
If you want to get high-tech then you may want to consider using a smart camera that has both a surveillance camera and intelligent motion sensing technology built-in. A smart camera allows you to draw a virtual tripwire or box that when crossed will trigger recording and/or a siren to scare the criminal away. To learn more you may want to read through these guides on smart detection.
3. Gates, Locks, and Bright Lights
Sometimes the best ways to keep thieves out of your property are also the simplest. Make sure there are locks for every space around the property, and be diligent about using them. Even if your farm is in a friendly, trusting community, you can never be too careful when it comes to using your locks. If you’re using padlocks, make sure they have a cover so they can’t be cut easily.
You should also have reliable gates at every access point throughout the farm. Putting chains and barbed wire on the gates makes it much more difficult for thieves to climb over or slip through gates. Gates should always be securely cemented into the ground, and the hinges should be strong enough to resist damage. Consider using an electric entry code for your gates and locks, and changing it on a regular basis to make it more difficult to hack.
Keeping lights on is another excellent way to deter thieves. The brighter your farm is, the less likely they will be to sneak in. Since bright lights can be hard on your electric bill, focus them on areas where you need to deter thieves the most, like your fuel storage. You can also set your lights on timers so that you don’t have to worry about turning them on and off manually.
4. Preventative Safety Audits
Before implementing any of these farm security tools, you may want to consider having your property professionally surveyed. There are private contractors that offer security surveys to identify any points on your property that are particularly vulnerable to crime. These contractors can also offer expert advice on how to make your farm more secure. They can provide personalized advice that takes your property’s setup, location, and budget into consideration.
If you can’t afford a professional consultation, you may also want to consider doing a DIY security audit. Many cities and counties offer resources for farmers to help them keep their farms safer, including DIY security checklists that you can use to survey your property on your own. You can also look online for checklists to use if your local farmers’ organizations don’t provide them. Make sure you complete a safety survey every year or two to ensure that your security system is current. Your security needs may change over time, and security technology advances over time as well. Regular security audits will ensure that you stay ahead of any criminals who may want to take advantage of you.
You should also make sure you are conducting regular inventory checks. Start by making a spreadsheet of every asset you have on the farm, as well as its estimated financial value. Print a copy of this inventory and keep it somewhere off-site so that you’ll have it if someone breaks into your office. You may also want to consider doing a photo or video inventory to go along with your written inventory. Since farms are very large, it may take a while for you to realize when something has been stolen. Regular inventory checks can help you find anything that might have gone missing.
5. Farm Watch Community Program
A strong community is one of the biggest deterrents for criminals. Partner with your local community to create a farm watch program and protect one another. Many rural communities already have these types of programs, but if yours doesn’t, talk to your local law enforcement about starting one. With these programs, people in the community can keep an eye out for one another, using social media to communicate about potential problems and suspicious activity. By partnering with your local sheriff and other law enforcement, people will know exactly where to go if they need to report anything out of the ordinary. These programs are also very helpful for educating residents about the types of crimes that can happen on farms and how to prevent them. Many people aren’t aware of the risks of rural crime until something happens to them. An educated community will know what to look for and be able to spot any warning signs before they turn into serious crimes. A community program also means you’ll have someone to lean on in the unlikely event that farm is targeted.
The workplace can be a highly stressful environment at the best of times, especially if you’re working in teams, have tight deadlines, and a never-ending to-do list. Some industries, such as IT, for example are also said to be more stressful work environments than other industries, with almost half of IT workers reporting significant stress at work.
Constant surveillance of employees could lead to increased stress and anxiety, causing employees to worry about whether or not their boss thinks they’re working hard or quick enough. Eventually, this could lead to decreased productivity as they think of ways to avoid the surveillance system and could even result in staff leaving and therefore an increase in turnover.
6. Owner Applied Number
Another effective way to keep track of your inventory and prevent theft is by applying for an owner applied number, or OAN, through the FBI. This program will give you a unique 10 digit number that signifies your name as well as the state and county where you are based. You can then put that number on any item throughout your farm, from machinery to animals to fuel storage. If any of your property is stolen, law enforcement can look for your numbers to find your property. Alternatively, if any farm property is found without an owner, law enforcement can use these numbers to help it find its home. If thieves see that your property has an ID number stamped on it, they may think twice before taking your valuable items.
How Serious is the Threat to Farm Security?
You may be wondering why farm security is so important. There are many parts of a farm’s ecosystem that make them a target for thieves. During food shortages or periods of difficult weather, thieves may take an interest in your farm if you’ve grown a successful yield. Water supplies can also become a target during dry years. Many pieces of farm equipment, like tractors, carry a high resale value, which means they can also draw interest from thieves. If you keep animals on your property, they are also at risk, particularly if they are a highly sought-after breed.
Farms are usually large and have many entry points, so it’s difficult to protect your entire property without a good security system. It’s important to be aware of every access point on your property where criminals could get in, and take steps to address them. Criminals can get very creative, and it’s important to stay one step ahead of them at all times.
Your farm’s safety is incredibly important, so a modern security camera system is a worthwhile investment. No matter where you live, your farm could become of interest to criminals in the area, particularly if you have high-value crops or tools on site. As farm technology advances, you’ll have even more options that will help you protect your business.