“Some embark on farmyard heists whilst others are devoted to back-bedroom chicken sanctuaries,” a quote taken from Channel 4’s new documentary ‘How to Steal Pigs and Influence People’. Whilst, many may think this is part of the positive vegan uprising, The National Pig Association have expressed grave concern of the glamorisation and condoning of livestock theft from farms.
Wesley Omar, who was featured in the documentary, was found guilty of theft after he broke into a farm and stole a pig. Stating ‘he was saving it from slaughter.’ Due to this ‘humane reasoning’, he only received a 12 month community order and completed 100 hours of unpaid work. However, the farmer in question incurred huge losses as he could no longer reclaim the pig due to potential contamination, alongside a cost of £6,000 to upgrade his security.
According to NFU Mutual, the cost of rural crime has risen by 12% since 2017, with the Home Office Statistics stating 26% of rural businesses experienced at least one crime incident in 2018. But the face of rural crime is changing, with M.O’s shifting. What once were opportunistic thieves, have now turned into organised criminals stealing heavy machinery and livestock. One example saw around 200 sheep stolen in the last three months within the Wiltshire area alone. Due to the volume of these incidents, police speculated only skilled sheep rustlers could conduct this crime so efficiently and undisturbed. The result of this crime has cost the agricultural industry £3m, just in 2019.
However, theft isn’t the only emerging rural crime trend hitting these farmers. Fly-tipping on private land has risen considerably over the past few years with figures constantly rising. Once again, like the face of rural theft, criminals are evolving. The Environment Agency has stated that organised gangs are making high profits through ‘waste removal’, undercutting legitimate waste management sites through fly-tipping. This crime is affecting 67% of farms and landowners as criminals try to evade landfill taxes. But what happens when you’re the victim of this crime? According to Countryside Alliance, it’s the only rural offence where landowners are legally responsible for the disposal of said waste, costing them around £47m each year.
So how can farmers and agricultural landowners protect their premises and assets from both animal rights activists and organised criminals? A scheme has been introduced within specific areas in order to curb the increasing rates of rural crime across England and Wales. Dedicated police teams have been created to provide protection and support to rural areas, with specialist knowledge in dealing with cases. But what happens when gangs commit these crimes in the space of a few minutes?
They get away.
With this in mind, how does your physical security measure up against these criminals? Should we be considering a line of defence that deters, detects and delays these intruders, rather than allowing them onto the land, whilst waiting for police to respond. Security measures nowadays are able to delay intrusions being the difference between criminals getting away and getting caught.
Many other industries such as commercial and sports sectors utilise effective physical security within their premises in order to protect their assets. So the Hot Topic asks; why is the agricultural industry any different?
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