West Oxfordshire does occasionally suffer from travelling criminals who target farms, livestock and equipment.
The police are working hard to combat this type of crime and the good news is that there is plenty you can do to protect yourself and your property.
Farmhouse and building security
As far as possible, keep the number of entrances and exits to a minimum. Consider installing electrically operated gates or barriers.
Doors and Windows
Fit a security mortice deadlock to exterior doors. If the door is solid a viewer enables you to see who it outside, plus a chain for when opening the door.
Remove keys from locks when not in use and keep out of view.
Shutters, both internal and external, are available for the protection of remote buildings and can be retracted out of sight when in use.
Thieves hate well lit areas as they do not want to be seen. Fit external lights which can be operated by automatic devices.
Use timer switches indoors when you are away to activate internal lights.
Alarms and CCTV
Advice about electronic security systems can be obtained from an approved security company registered with the National Security Inspectorate (NSI).
Make your property identifiable.
You can use a kit like SelectaDNA to mark all types of items, from war medals, jewellery and pictures to passports and birth certificates. The kits have a unique solution which can only be viewed with an ultra-violet lamp. Marked items can be registered on a national database held by police which can be checked if items are found after being stolen. Stickers are provided in the kit to display to deter potential burglars. The Partnership sells these kits for £15 (retail price £49). For more information telephone 01993 861633.
Implements and Tools
Lock tools and small items of machinery away inside a secure building. To prevent the theft of batteries, tools and accessories avoid leaving tractors and other farm implements in fields.
Keep valuable machinery away from public roads when not in use.
Record the make and serial number of power tools as an up to date inventory is essential.
Mark or stamp easily removed items with your postcode (followed by the first two letters of your farm’s name).
Vehicles and Plant
Four wheel drive vehicles, plant, trailers, horse boxes, caravans and quad bikes are all a target for thieves. There are many anti-theft devices available such as alarms, immobilisers and tracking systems.
Pumps should have locking devices and/or isolator switches. Where possible, house in a secure location.
Field gate hinges should be of the capped or inverted type to prevent easy removal. Check them regularly to see if they have been tampered with.
Good quality chains or padlocks make them more difficult to steal.
Grazing animals can be targeted by thieves. Keep hedges, fences and gates in good repair. Be vigilant, make regular checks and encourage your neighbours to report any suspicious vehicles.
If livestock is stolen it is important that you can give the police an accurate description. Ear tags and horn brands can help identify them. Freeze branding or tattooing your postcode can also be carried out.
Horse related crime
Criminals do not tend to be opportunist in the horse world. They know what they are looking for and will come prepared.
Tack and accessories should be marked and locked in the farmhouse, not left in the stables.
Horses and ponies can be freeze marked or hoof branded.
Take photos of your animals and expensive equipment for future reference.
Further information on Horse Watch is available on the Thames Valley Horse Watch website.
Information on poaching, hare coursing and wildlife can be found under Wildlife Crime.
Trespass and illegal encampments
Thames Valley Police work closely with Oxfordshire County Council Gypsy and Traveller Services to ensure that incidents of conflict between the travelling and settled communities are minimised.
For more information on this service please visit the County Council website.
Information about flytipping and abandoned vehicles can be found under Rural Affairs.
Remember, West Oxfordshire is a low crime area and the police and its partners will continue working with local communities and businesses to keep it this way.