Recently, there have been reports of suspicious vehicles parked along the road near livestock and poultry farms throughout the Midwest, including Iowa. In some instances, people are just taking photos of the livestock and poultry barns, but in more extreme cases, people are entering the buildings to take photos, and videos of the animals. It is important to be vigilant in monitoring the security of your farm at all times, for the safety of yourself, your family, your employees, the livestock, and poultry in your care.
Every year the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) receives reports of vandalism and/or theft at livestock and poultry farms. Culprits can include an animal activist making a demonstration, an upset neighbor or community member, a disgruntled employee, or kids pulling a prank.
CSIF and law enforcement officials encourage farmers to be proactive even if they are not aware of any suspicious vehicles or criminal activity in their neighborhood.
A FEW TIPS INCLUDE:
- Vary your routine – If criminals figure out there is a regular schedule, they will have a window of opportunity.
- Utilize a camera or surveillance system – Outdoor cameras work well for vehicle identification. Indoor cameras (placed at the point of entry) help identify people. Options range from low-cost motion-activated cameras with a memory card to high-tech systems that wirelessly stream video to your laptop or smart phone.
- Install security lighting – The more lights, the better. Consider motion-activated lights.
- Secure tools and equipment – Always take keys out and lock every vehicle + piece of equipment. Do not give criminals access to tools to make their crime easier.
- Lock all doors – Lock both exterior and interior doors when you are not at the site. If someone were to break in, don’t make it easy for them to get into other areas.
- Secure doors and door frames – Install steel door frames and doors with deadbolt locks to make them more difficult to break in to.
- Develop an Emergency Action Plan – Make a list of important phone numbers including your veterinarian, neighbors, local emergency management office, insurance agent, fire department, sheriff’s office and employees. Share the plan with family and employees.
“Most people think they will never be the target, but no one can assume they are safe,” says CSIF Executive Director Brian Waddingham. “There are many preventative measures you can take, including installation of a surveillance system. Although it may seem expensive at the time, it is really a cheap insurance policy.”
If you find a suspicious vehicle near your farm or discover criminals on your property, do not try to apprehend them. Contact local law enforcement.