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Preventing Rural Crime

On our Preventing Rural Crime section you can find information and advice on arson, commercial diesel theft, equestrian, farmhouses/buildings, fertiliser security, Horse Watch, livestock, metal theft and plant/equipment theft.

Arson Prevention

Take some simple precautions to reduce the risk of arson on your farm.

Reduce the risk of fire

  • Store hay and straw separate from other buildings, particularly those housing fuel, agrochemicals and machinery.
  • Ensure haystacks are spaced at least 10 metres apart.
  • Ensure livestock is housed separately from hay and straw.
  • Fertilisers, petrol, diesel other fuels should be stored in secure areas.
  • Storage tank outlets should be padlocked.
  • Install security lighting and intruder sensors.
  • Dispose of waste and refuse safely and on a regular basis.
  • Regularly maintain and repair buildings, fencing or gates.

Reduce the spread of fire

There are a number of things that you can do to reduce the spread of fire on your land should a fire start:

  • Keep farm machinery chaff free, serviced and in good condition.
  • Try and have a tractor with machinery free, to cut a fire break should the need arise.
  • Have a full water tank in close proximity when harvesting.
  • Regularly check and maintain open water supplies for fire fighting.
  • Remind farm workers of their need to be careful with cigarettes and matches while harvesting.

For further advice on fire and safety visit Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Commercial Diesel Theft

Fuel thieves typically assess opportunities during the day time and strike at night or weekends.

Be aware of loiterers and strangers walking through your vehicle parking areas and challenge any suspicious behaviour.

Helpful tips:

  • Store diesel in a secure fuel tank and use good quality locks.
  • Avoid installing storage tanks in isolated areas such as outlying buildings.
  • Consider using a mobile tanker that could be removed to a secure place when not in use.
  • Consider the use of a diesel dye; that makes your diesel traceable and therefore less attractive to thieves.
  • Report incidents of suspicious activity to the police and if possible record vehicle details and descriptions of the people involved.
  • Consider fitting alarms, gates and lighting.


Datatag owners can take a number of precautions to help avoid being targeted by thieves.

Saddle Security MarkingTack storage/stable security:

  • Use solid doors and door frames.
  • Doors should be fitted with good locks (to latest British Standards).
  • Lock gates with padlocks and heavy duty chains.
  • Consider fitting security bars to windows to prevent offenders gaining access.
  • Consider installing a CCTV system.
  • Fit security lights and an intruder alarm.

Tack security:

  • Property marking tack increases the likelihood of finding property if stolen.
  • Consider keeping photographs and written records of all tack.

Horse security:

  • Take colour photos in both winter and summer from each side, head, tail and any scars/markings.
  • Microchip your horse (this is a legal requirement).
  • All horses need a passport (this is also a legal requirement).
  • Hoof branding - by branding the horse's hoof you have another method of identification.

For live updates, visit our Horsewatch Facebook page.

Farmhouses and Buildings

Around your farm yard, in your barns and outbuildings there is valuable equipment that will appeal to thieves, eg. power tools, quads, and diesel.

Tips to consider to help prevent theft from farms and outbuildings:

  • Consider installing CCTV or an intruder alarm.
  • Store valuable equipment and tools in a secure building behind a strong locked door.
  • Always lock doors to outbuildings when not in use.
  • Use British Standard locks and protect windows with good quality metal bars.
  • Fit outside security lights controlled by an automatic time-switch or infra-red beams.
  • Where possible security mark your valuable possessions, also keeping a record of them.
  • Improve security for your diesel and fertiliser.


  • Ensure the perimeter around your fields and outbuildings is secure, this will help deter thieves from targeting livestock, vehicles and tools.
  • Check fences and hedges to ensure there are no weak spots that could provide unauthorised access to criminals or vehicles.
  • Consider a gate alarm or barrier system to restrict access to your entrance.

Machinery and tools:

  • Lock or immobilise vehicles and equipment when not in use. Remove keys from unattended cars, tractors and other vehicles.
  • Avoid leaving machinery in isolated locations or fields (especially roads) as this is where they can be removed without attracting attention.
  • Visibly mark your machine and tools - this acts as a deterrent to thieves and also helps police reunite stolen property to its rightful owner (if recovered).
  • Keep a list of tools, together with serial numbers. You can register your property on the UK national property register, Immobilise.

Fertiliser Security

Terrorist groups around the world have for many years misused fertilisers to make explosive devices. Now producers and suppliers of many chemical-based fertilizers have joined forces with national agencies to promote better awareness and enhance safer trading.

Safe Storage of Fertiliser

To secure fertiliser, there are many simple measures which if taken may prevent a theft - for more information please visit the National Counter Terrorism Security Office website.

Recommended practices:

  • Do not store fertiliser where there is public access.
  • Do not leave fertiliser in the field overnight.
  • Do not store fertiliser near to or visible from the public highway.
  • Do not sell fertiliser unless the purchaser is known to you as a legitimate farmer and is aware of the need to follow the guidance as listed in the fertiliser.
  • Record fertiliser deliveries and usage.
  • Wherever possible, and with regard to Health and Safety Executive, store fertiliser inside a locked building or compound.
  • When fertiliser is stored outside, check it has not been tampered with.
  • Carry out regular stock checks.
  • Report any losses or suspicious activity immediately to the police.
  • Record manufacturer code and the number of the detonation resistance test certificate.

Counter terrorism is not usually associated with rural communities, but certain chemicals like fertilisers, diesel, herbicides and pesticides, which are stored in large quantities on farms, can be misused to devastating effect.

Visit the website Secure Your Fertiliser for further security related advice.

If you feel that your company could benefit from counter terrorism security advice you can contact us through this form.


Grazing animals can be a target for criminals and should be treated like any other valuables, employing crime prevention measures where necessary.

Suggested practices:

  • Check fields where animals are grazing daily, if possible, as they are an easy target for thieves.
  • Keep your hedges, fences and gates in good repair. Ditches also form a natural barrier.
  • Fit field gates with capping hinges so they cannot be removed easily.
  • Cattle grids should be removable and locking posts should be used to prevent large openings in the yard.
  • Consider using CCTV, allowing animals to be watched in barns or yards from the comfort of your home. This can be useful during busy times like lambing season.
  • If livestock is stolen, it's important you give police an accurate description. Ear tags help police to identify stock. Freeze-branding, hot-branding or tattooing with your postcode can also help.
  • Take photographs of particularly valuable animals. 
  • Report all suspicious activity to the police: in an emergency dial 999 - non-emergency dial 101.

Metal Theft

Tips on how to help prevent metal theft.

What do thieves mainly target?

  • copper lightning conductors
  • lead and copper rainwater pipes
  • bronze statues and metal garden ornaments
  • iron gates
  • church bells
  • catalytic converters from cars and commercial vehicles

Preventing metal theft:

  • Keep gates locked and install strong fences.
  • You can grow prickly hedges around property boundaries which should be kept well pruned to maximise visibility.
  • Store objects such as water butts, wheelie bins and garden furniture away from the building, to help prevent access to your roof.
  • Restrict vehicle access where possible.
  • Store ladders and tools in a secure place.
  • Check your roof regularly for any missing lead.
  • Consider installing security lighting.
  • Use security and forensic marking to mark metal goods.
  • Install lighting and CCTV to help deter would-be thieves, and check it regularly to make sure it's still working. Check with your local authority to see if permission is required.
  • Report incidents of suspicious activity to the police and if possible record vehicle details and descriptions of the people involved.

Legal disposal of scrap metal:

  • You should dispose of scrap metal regularly. Thieves will use the excuses of "can I take your scrap away mate?" to have a good look around and assess the vulnerabilities of your site.
  • Use a legitimate waste carrier to remove scrap from your site. Legal waste carriers are registered and licensed by the Environment Agency or alternatively ask your council for information on approved sites

Plant and Equipment Theft

To reduce the chance of being targeted consider:

  • Are you overlooked or isolated - having the public around can deter thieves.
  • Well lit or gloomy - a site that is well lit when not in use is less attractive to thieves than one sitting in darkness.
  • Are there good transport links for removing the machinery quickly and easily.
  • Are you in a high crime area.
  • How easy would resale of the stolen items be.
  • Do you have a stable, experienced workforce.

Next look at what you can do to make the site harder to target.

There are a number of systems which are recognised as deterring thieves:

  • Identification marking makes items harder to resell and easier to identify if recovered.
  • Mechanical deterrents - industry recognised locking systems on steering and brake systems can delay thieves by several minutes per device.
  • Vehicle immobilisers can be expensive but very effective ways of safeguarding your machinery.
  • Tracking systems help your property to be traced.

Advice to plant owners:

  • Use security lighting and alarms around your outbuildings.
  • Mark your machinery, particularly ride on mowers and tractor type machinery, with forensic marking products so that if they are stolen and recovered by the police they can be more easily traced back to you.
  • Block smaller machinery in using larger vehicles which are harder to move.
  • Put warning signs up around your premises indicating that you have high security measures in place.
  • Put signs up asking members/visitors to report any suspicious activity immediately.
  • Consider the use of a security company.
  • Erect fencing and lighting around the site.
  • Ensure vehicles are locked and keys stored securely.

What to do if plant machinery is stolen:

  • Act quickly and tell the local police.
  • If the equipment is insured, also tell your insurer.
  • If your equipment is registered with a commercial registration or tracking company, remember to tell them too.
  • Don't disturb the scene of the crime until the police have investigated.
  • Try to get the names and addresses of any witnesses.
  • Make a note of the date, time and place of the theft and who saw the equipment last.
  • Let the police have the plant identification document so that they can enter the correct information on the Police National Computer.

For a comprehensive Crime Prevention Security Risk Assesment please consult -  Commercial Security Assessment [1MB]

Horse Watch

Horsewatch SignStaffordshire Horse Watch was started after a meeting at the Staffordshire County Showground in September 1993.

The group was formed following some horrific attacks on horses in other parts of the country and also a general increase in horse related crime, such as tack and horse trailers being stolen.

The scheme, which has the full support of Staffordshire Police, is primarily organised and run by a horse owner for horse owners.

The aims of Horse Watch are:

  • To encourage all owners to protect their own animals and property.
  • To help foster a community spirit among equine enthusiasts.
  • To encourage every owner to make their animals and property identifiable.

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