Words and photos from the Police Rural Crime Team.
You will not have failed to notice how early it gets dark these days. For some it shortens the working day and for others it lengthens it along with the chance to use the cover of darkness to commit opportunist crimes.
It doesn’t matter if you are in an urban or rural area there will always be someone who has their eyes open to get something for nothing.
It is a sad fact that the darker evenings have traditionally meant more thefts from farms. With the substantial increase in the cost of living the Wiltshire Police Rural Crime Team are asking farmers, landowners and those who live in isolated rural areas to be extra vigilant.
PC Pete Simmons who covers the south of the Force area said: “Crime prevention is one of the most important things you can do to help reduce farm crime as a whole. Some simple measures can help you protect your equipment, livestock and home.
“Some are simple and will cost you nothing apart from your time and others will require investment in security systems.”
Here are some of the things you can do to help prevent becoming a victim:
● Lock gates into farmyards at night to deter drive through thieves
● Lock doors into outbuildings and farmhouses
● Fit CCTV and flood lights activated by passive infrared sensors
● Ensure alarms are working and properly maintained
● Use signage stating CCTV is present or alarm systems in place
● Don’t leave keys in farm machinery
● Keep keys in a secure cabinet after working hours
● Lock tools and other machinery securely away after use
● Consider using a steering wheel lock on vehicles
● Using a hitch-lock on a trailer is cheaper than replacing the whole trailer
● Record serial numbers and take pictures of more expensive kit – especially unusual marks caused by wear and tear. This makes it easier to ID if is stolen and recovered
● Use a security marking system, such as the DNA product we promote as part of Op Siege, which is a burglary deterrent initiative on power tools, machinery or GPS systems (see below)
● GPS systems should also be removed from vehicles overnight and locked away securely
● Use trackers on items such as Quads/ATVs
● Ensure bulk fuel tanks are securely locked at all times when nobody is using them
● Don’t leave scrap metal or old batteries out in view. Lock them out of sight or in a secured skip
● Think about using the CESAR agricultural equipment security and registration scheme – www.cesarscheme.org
● Set a procedure/guidance for farm workers to follow should they see an unknown person or vehicle on the farm estate. Ideally report this to Wiltshire Police
● Join a local farm watch or rural watch group to keep updated about local rural crime trends and suspicious sightings
● If you haven’t already done so, sign up to the Farm Watch group on Community Messaging www.wiltsmessaging.co.uk
Launched in the summer of 2022, Op Siege is intended to act as a deterrent to residential burglars and could also be a useful tool for farmers to use on the farm or in their homes.
The Force has chosen to work with a Secured by Design nationally police-approved company, called SelectaDNA. The company manufactures a unique product marking kit that links to a national database that is accessible by all police forces.
The product is a clear liquid that contains unique data tags only visible under an ultraviolet light. Each bottle of liquid is unique and can be used to mark up to 50 items. Although envisaged for household valuables such as antiques, electronics and jewellery it is also being used by tradesmen to mark their power tools.
Once you have marked an item with the liquid you enter that on a national database so that if an item is stolen it can be identified as yours if recovered. This also makes it easier for the Police to get your property back to you.
Wiltshire Police has agreed a special low rate for those living in Wiltshire and Swindon – you can buy a discounted home kit directly from the manufacturer using this link only: www.selectadna.co.uk/nhw
Use discount code NHWAWILTSHIRE and get a SelectaDNA home kit at the reduced price of £25.00 inclusive of VAT and postage.
You do not have to be a Neighbourhood Watch member to do so.
Another unsavoury aspect of criminal activity at this time of year is illegal poaching.
So far this year we have seen a fall in hare coursing and this is partly due to the new equipment the Police and Crime Commissioner has invested in for the Rural Crime Team – night vision goggles, digital binoculars with recording facility and drones are all part of the armoury to help prevent hare coursing.
If you see hare coursing taking place call 999 immediately, do not approach the people involved. If you can see how many people and dogs are involved, the type and colour of the vehicle being used – registration plate too – it can help to catch them. Hare coursers can do thousands of pounds of damage to a field and farm property in a very short time.
Whenever possible keep field gates locked and use capping hinges to help prevent theft.
Wiltshire Police helps prevent hare coursing across force boundaries as part of Op Galileo. Information is exchanged between forces to help identify persistent perpetrators and exchange other intelligence to help prevent this crime.
Contact Wiltshire Police
In an emergency, always call 999. Or call 101 the non-emergency number.
In other circumstances you can report a crime online here: www.wiltshire.police.uk/Report_a_crime