Let Your Guard Down Just Because You Live in the Country
Rural communities have their own unique crime problems - like theft
of crops, timber, livestock, and expensive farm equipment. Vandals
do more than break mailboxes, they can destroy crops and fields.
Alcohol and drug abuse problems plague rural youth as well as those
in the suburbs and cities. And of course, crimes like burglary,
rape, assault, and auto theft happen in rural areas, but less frequently
than in cities.
Invest some time and money in prevention now. What's the payoff?
Better security around your property, less worry about crime and
your family's safety.
Be a good neighbor - when you're out and about, keep an eye on
neighbors' homes, livestock, and equipment. Tell them and the sheriff
or police about anything that makes you uneasy or suspicious.
Check the Doors and Locks
- Make sure outside doors - in your home and outbuildings - are
solid wood or metal and have dead bolt locks.
- Use the locks!
- Secure sliding glass doors with commercially available locks
or with a broomstick or wooden dowel in the track to jam the door
in case someone tries to pry it open. Insert screws in the upper
track going into the fixed frame, to prevent anyone from lifting
the door from its track.
- Secure double-hung windows by sliding bolt or nail through a
hole drilled at a downward angle in each top corner of the inside
sash and part way through the outside sash. Secure basement windows
Check the Outside
- Keep your house, driveway, barns, and other buildings well-lighted
at night. Use timers that automatically turn on outside lights
when it gets dark.
- Consider motion sensors that set off lights or alarms.
- Prune back shrubbery that hides doors, windows, lights, and
- Keep your fences in good repair. Secure all access roads with
gates or cables stretched between posts cemented in the ground.
Make them visible with flags or streamers.
- Warn thieves that you're on the alert with "No Trespassing,"
"No Hunting," and other signs around your property.
Equipment and Livestock
- Operation Identification - marking tools, guns, and equipment
with a permanent identification number such as driver's license
or Social Security - has helped reduce theft in many rural areas.
Work with law enforcement to determine the best methods, and make
it a community project.
- To help stop modern rustlers, tattoo all livestock (usually
on the ears). Although it's easier to use eartags or neck chains,
these can be removed. Mark young stock soon after birth.
- Take regular counts of all livestock.
Protect Your Equipment
- Secure gas pumps, gas tanks, storage bins, and grain elevators
with sturdy padlocks or dead bolts. Keep small equipment - like
mowers, bikes, snowmobiles - locked in a barn or garage. Keep
guns locked and unloaded in a secure place away from curious children
and would-be thieves.
- Never leave keys in vehicles or farm equipment.
- Always lock your trucks and other vehicles when they're not
in use. And don't leave tools in the open back of a pick-up truck
or in an unsecured truck bed toolbox.
- Don't leave major equipment in a field overnight. Lock it in
a barn or shed near the house, or park where it can be seen from
your house or a neighbor's.
- If machines must be left out for long periods of time, disable
them by removing the rotor, distributor, or battery.
Guard Your Crops
- Store harvested crops in protected and locked locations.
- Consider marking grain, hay, or similar crops with nontoxic
confetti that is easily removed by storage or processing facilities.
- Keep a record of your valuable timber. Mark each with a paint
- Keep storage areas neat and well-organized so that any theft
will be noticed immediately. This also warns potential thieves
that the owner is watchful.
- Check employees' references. Before they start, talk about your
crime prevention measures.
Help your neighbors
- Get together with others in the community to start a Neighborhood
or Farm Watch group. Involve all ages, and work with law enforcement.
Recruit from churches and civic groups. Use CB radios or cellular
phones to patrol and report suspicious activities to the sheriff
- When you go away, stop delivery of your mail or newspapers or
ask a neighbor to pick them up. You want to create the illusion
that someone's at home and following everyday routines. Have neighbors
check your property, and return the favor when they leave on business
or vacation trips.
Take a stand
- Ask equipment dealers and farm suppliers to display crime prevention
- If your school district doesn't have an alcohol, drug, and crime
prevention curriculum in place, help start one.
- Check out recreational opportunities for teens - work with schools,
4-H, or Future Farmers to fill the gaps, both after school and
- Educate young people about the hazards of operating farm machinery
and being around livestock. For example, tractors are involved
in 69 percent of farm machinery deaths, and young people raised
on farms often operate these machines at early ages.
Return to Crime Prevention Tips
Crime Prevention Tips Provided by:
National Crime Prevention Council