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Watch schemes for smallholders
7:20pm Friday 11th February 2011 in Property
Ellen Muirhead says you can do something to protect your property Take a walk around your land and buildings. Think like a thief who doesn’t care how much damage he causes to your property or livestock, while he steals anything he can sell. He won’t worry about letting your animals out onto a road to get injured if he wants your electric fencing battery. Thieves like tools, machinery, quad bikes, lawn mowers, trailers, horse tack, diesel, heating oil, batteries, animal feed, scrap metal and sadly even your livestock. If you noticed anything on your walk, even a bit of scrap metal, which might bring thieves onto your property move it, fix it or lock it.
This is the kind of initial advice that CCW, Cambridgeshire Countryside Watch gives new members. Watch schemes across the country are partnerships between members and the local constabulary. They provide advice and practical help on security matters, and coordinate information flow between members and local police. They have proved their worth many times. Earlier this year vigilant CCW members provided information which led to the recovery of £120,000 worth of tractors.
So how do these schemes work? CCW members are encouraged to report all unusual incidents promptly to the police and watch coordinators, with descriptions of vehicles and occupants if available. This information is sent by text or telephone to all members in the area who are then on the lookout for the suspects or stolen goods. This has resulted in arrests, prosecutions and the return of property. We will never know how many crimes have been prevented by these warnings.
It is difficult to secure a collection of buildings and animal sheds, paddocks, fields and animals but a good start would be to join a local watch scheme. If you don’t have one, how about getting together with friends and neighbours and approaching your local police officers to get one started? Even on your own however, there are things you can do to deter thieves and help police to identify your property and return it to you.
Keep your premises tidy, remove from sight and lock away anything a thief might want. Keep fencing and hedges secure and gates closed at all times so that no-one can drive in and look around. Make a note of the registration number of suspicious vehicles in the area and check for strange cars parked in the vicinity when you go out. Check that your buildings are strong enough to support good door locks or strengthen one or two and use them for your equipment, feed etc. making sure that any windows are obscured.
Good lighting and motion activated lights are a deterrent and may alert you to unwanted intruders, Consider Closed Circuit Television, CCTV but think before you spend a lot of money. What do you hope to achieve, is it a deterrent or do you want to gather evidence?
Being able to identify your property is vital. The police recover thousands of items of stolen property but then cannot trace the owner. They cannot prosecute the thieves or return your property. Help them. Make a list of serial numbers and photograph and mark your property. Gloss Paint your postcode, in big letters on your strimmer, wheel barrow, hand tools and lawnmower. Metal items can be engraved or etched with a postcode. Thieves won’t want to be caught with identifiable property. Smartwater, www.smartwater.com, is a colourless liquid containing a unique forensic code, registered to you and identifiable under ultraviolet light. It can be painted on anything from jewellery to a tractor and is virtually impossible to remove. Thieves fear Smartwater and the signs and window stickers are a powerful deterrent.
The Construction Equipment Security and Registration Scheme www.cesarscheme.org, allows police officers to identify machinery quickly Smallholder January 2011 - every month we look at smallholding issues including security and crime
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