Monday, March 10, 2014

Farm Security

Just recently our neighbor had an issue with an intruder. At 2:30 am the neighborhood dogs put out the alert--- stranger on the street! Several of the neighbors awoke, listening, looking. The strange vehicle disappeared up the road. Next thing we knew it was on our neighbor's property, a secluded property whose caretaker was out of town. How'd that happen? The gate was locked. Next morning we learned that the intruder cut the locked chain off, possibly knowing that the caretaker was absent. Hubby and I went out to chase the intruder out. Much shouting, gesturing, threatening ensued with the intruder finally leaving. Unknown to us at the time, he managed to grab two propane tanks as we chased him out. As the intruder drove off, one of the neighbors got the vehicle license plate number. By now neighbors were out on the front of their properties, armed for warfare. Yes, we're a serious bunch on this road and all believe in guns for property protection. This intruder obviously hadn't done his proper homework and he's lucky not to have gotten himself into a risky situation where he would have been shot. The next day, during the police investigation, we learned that our intruder was just recently released from prison and had a long criminal record of break-ins and robbery. 

By the next day everyone around had heard about the incident. Word was put out via the grapevine that just about every neighbor had awoke and came out armed with guns, ready to protect one another and their property. With luck the news will eventually make its way back to the intruder and his friends. 
Neighbors are asking themselves what more can we do to protect our area? A formal neighborhood watch? Some of us are more nervous than others about the incident. But this was a good test run to see if we all have adequate protection if society gets worse in the future. 

Just about everyone in our road has a chained, lock gate. 
Those who didn't have since put up barriers. Although this incident shows that a locked gate doesn't keep out a determined intruder, it is a good deterrent for the timid criminal or the hit-and-run type snatcher. Fences help but are not total protection either. Experience has shown that barbed wire atop fencing keeps out the walk-by intruders. 
One strand helps, two work better. But determined intruders can easily bypass fencing and barbed wire. Multiple fences also deter casual intruders. Most intruders are lazy enough not to want to go to the effort to breech multiple fences to get to your barn or house. Plus it makes it more difficult for a quick getaway, especially if lugging some loot. And a rock wall effectively keeps pickup trucks from doing a quick drive by snatch.
This eventful night it was the watchdogs that worked successfully. They sounded the first alarm. They awakened people enough that we all heard the strange vehicle drive by. So barking dogs definitely work. 
Driveway alarms and notion sensors also work, because we found out a few days later that the intruder first attempted to enter a property up the end of our road but got spooked away when detected. 

Neighbor were asking each other how can we know if there is an intruder walking on their place, someone who hopped the fence, if they don't have a dog? A motion sensing light indeed works. Many motion lights are linked to a system that gives a sound alert inside the house.  A driveway alarm is another. No light but they make a sound inside your house. A noisemaking deer chaser would help, as would a homemade noise boobytrap.......a stacked pile of old beer bottles atop sheets of old metal roofing, with a fish line tied to one of the bottom bottles in the stack. The fish line is run along the most apt access corridor and set up as a tripwire. Anyone hitting the wire will tumble the bottle pile, making a heck of a racket. Sure to awaken all the neighborhood dogs, then most the people, and scare the intruder s***less. This actually works great, but they are lots of other types of noise makers one can easily make. Deer chasers come in all sorts of forms and don't differentiate between deer and human trespassers. 

Instead of barbed wire some neighbors use a hotwire to contain livestock. Although a hotwire can startle an intruder, it is far easier to disable than barbed wire. Not much value for property protection. 

I have seen farm gates with warning signs that would make one thick twice about entering. "Loose Bulls. Call 000-0000 Before Entering". "Toxic Chemicals Sprayed on This Farm. Not Responsible For Illness Or Death." "Security Cameras With Automatic Satellite Uplink". Anything claiming auto police notification doesn't work around here because it can take a cop car an hour, two hours, even more to reach us, and the criminals know that. 

Making a farm look attractive just seems to invite thieves. But looking poor or hillbilly style isn't sure protection either. Around here thieves will hit poor looking areas because there most likely are no burglar alarms or security cameras to catch them. But regardless of how nice or poorly a place looks, thieves will still snoop into unlocked buildings and look for equipment and supplies located out of sight of the roadway. So just hiding something around the back of the barn is not a good idea. Buildings out of sight of the road are most vulnerable. Neighbors report that items are more apt to disappear from sheds that are well off the road or hidden down in hollows. Locked doors don't help with such buildings because thieves simple pry off the entire door! But locked doors can be made a bit more secure by having hinges mounted on the inside and having outside latches which can't be easily screwed off.
Commonsense says not to leave keys in motorized equipment, but people have a lazy habit of leaving the keys in ATVs, lawn tractors, etc. Makes things easy for thieves. And nothing like storing your loading ramps right with your lawn tractor! That's convenient for you but also for a thief. By the way, removing the battery on machinery helps when dealing with casual thieves, but I've seen big equipment like tractors and skidsteers disappear because the thief had plenty of time to scope out the situation unseen, then return with the appropriate battery. Bye bye equipment! 

Police will tell you to avoid sticking to a schedule, such as leaving or coming home at the same time every day. That's tough to do if you have a job to go to, but it's a good suggestion. Keep the thieves guessing. Our neighbor caretaker obviously made the mistake of telling someone that she was going to be out of town overnight. The info got to the wrong person, who took advantage of the situation. Announcements of funerals and weddings alert thieves that many houses will be unattended. Same with large community affairs such as bazaars, spaghetti dinners, festivals. 

Setting up some sort of a neighborhood watch isn't a bad idea. Our road is small, so we wouldn't have to have patrols. But having everybody whip out their cellphones and make an obvious show of photographing strange cars would send a message. If that strange car actually is casing the neighborhood, the driver is very aware that their picture has just been taken. 

Criminals often case a neighborhood prior to breaking in. So I'm wary of supposed broken down cars, people claiming to be looking for lost dogs, people claiming to have permission to be hunting on adjacent property, people claiming to be missionary types. I don't have yard sales. I hear of people having stuff stolen a week after their yard sale, most likely by somebody casing their property while at the sale. I don't invite strangers to my property for the same reason. If I have something for sale, they can check it out down at my gate, not up in my livingroom. Paranoid, am I? No, just cautious. With the economy doing poorly, there's been an increase in thieves casing out neighborhoods. 

Recently the thieves have been employing another trick. They answer ads about rooms or houses for rent by owner. They come view the room/ house as though they are interested in renting while actually looking around for juicy, steal able items. Learning when the house will be empty, they later return to rip it off. I've heard of this happening frequently lately. 

While I live in a rather safe area, it doesn't hurt to be a little paranoid.....or shall I say, prepared and cautious. 

Postscript: our scumbag intruder has been picked up by the police and is back in jail. Since he violated his probation, lets hope he'll be in jail for a while before we need to be worried about him again. 

Just a few more thoughts.........

1- I wouldn't suggest blabbing to the world that one lives alone, or has been robbed before. I think that's like putting up a neon sign....come rob me. 
2- Having more than one dog is better watchdog protection. I've heard of robbers taking on one dog but not multiple dogs. Plus multiple dogs protect and attack with pack mentality. Far more protective and aggressive. Someone told me a long time ago that I shouldn't say that my dog is protective or would bite. I'd get sued, I was told. In reality, I could get sued regardless of the dog's reputation, so what the heck. Let people think the dogs are 'bad". The reputation will keep most thieves off the property. 

1 comment:

  1. Sad but necessary. We try to think in layers of detection and protection, but some criminals will try anyway. Those who think it is somehow "nice" to post a sign that they are in a "no gun zone" actually attract such thieves. I think some folks would rather have a sign saying "Intruders will be shot. Survivors will be shot again."
    Glad your neighbors turned out in force. Word hopefully gets out that there are some security systems being employed, up to and including "Protection Provided by Smith and Wesson". The vigilance of the neighborhood is very potent, as you indicated. The guy was caught, so he will probably try somewhere else next time.