Crime prevention food for thought

By Katie Milne


All manner of farm equipment, from animals to farm bikes, chainsaws, tools and even drench, can be found going cheap somewhere, but where did they come from?

New Zealand's rural communities are being targeted by criminals who see unattended sheds and remote paddocks as easy targets.

So the deal that seems too good to be true, could mean someone else is filing an insurance claim for its theft.

Rural crime rates are rising in many parts of the country and summer is a traditional stock rustling time.

A neighbourhood watch-type system is a relatively easy way rural people can make their communities safer.

If you did not catch up with your neighbours at Christmas, now is a good time to invite them around for a barbecue and chat about improving local security.

It is good to be able to ring someone down the road for help identifying vehicles, or let them know if you are going to have a look at suspicious activity on your farm at night.

This forms the backbone of neighbourhood watch groups which have proven effective in cutting crime rates for decades.

The past few years have seen a huge rise in straight-out rustling. Some instances are on an almost industrial scale with reports of larger jobs involving 200 or more sheep at a time over the past three years. This applies to cattle also.

We know stock trucks are commonly used and go from one end of the country to the other in a day, which makes rustling hard to stop, but a little extra vigilance by us all would make a difference.

Many farms being repeatedly hit are investing in better on-farm security and there are several things every farmer can do make their property more secure.

A useful tool to protect against theft is the New Zealand Police's Operation SNAP (Serial Number Action Partnership) at

This is an online tool aiming to reduce property theft by recording and storing the serial numbers, photos and descriptions of valuable assets. Then, if they are stolen, this information can be quickly provided to police. It might seem a daunting task, but is well worth it.

A few other security tips include:

Noting registration numbers or taking photos of strange or suspicious vehicles around your area. Thieves often stake out properties before they go in, so watch out for any suspicious people or vehicles.

Consider investing in an alarm system, not just for your home, but your garages and sheds. Even if you are not home, if it goes off burglars will not know how long they have until someone arrives to check it out.

Avoid leaving easily moved items such as tools, chainsaws and farm bikes around, especially with keys. Also hide away spare keys rather than having them hanging on hooks in the kitchen or in obvious places, such as under pot plants by the back door.

Criminals prefer to drive as they are less likely to be seen than if they walk up to premises, so making sure your gates are secured with quality locks is a good deterrent.

Do not trust people arriving unannounced on to your property with weak excuses, such as looking for a pet or arriving at a 'wrong' address. Use your phone or digital camera to quietly photograph them, but without them seeing, and take note of any vehicles.

Homes are often burgled when the owners are busy outside. It is well worth locking up if you are heading out to the back of your farm or about to use loud machinery such as chainsaws.

Anyone who sees or hears about something illegal, but fears repercussions if it were known they had talked to police, can call the anonymous Crimestoppers line.

Crimestoppers is a 24-hour, seven day a week service where people can either call 0800 555-111 or fill out a form on

- Hamilton News

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