Our new neighbours, not yet even moved in, recently had most (if not all) of their winter fire wood supply stolen at some point in the night. Our properties are far enough apart, and uphill from us with a creek and hill between, that we didn’t hear a thing.
It was going to be their only source of heat for winter.
It’s a sad fact that there are turkeys out there who would do such a thing, likely so they could turn around and sell it. I highly doubt it was for their own use. When we mentioned this on our Facebook page, our friends there had so many stories to share. And lots of advice…
So how do you avoid becoming such a statistic? It’s not always completely avoidable, unfortunately, but there are a few things you can do to reduce the changes of someone taking off with your stuff.
A Rural Security Check List – The Basics
In putting together this list I tried to only include solutions that didn’t involve expensive security systems, which, to me, sort of scream “I have really nice stuff to steal… over here… yep, RIGHT HERE!” I could be wrong, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t have one, but just something to think about. I also didn’t include methods that include firearms, because that whole area is rife with controversy, and depending on where you live, potentially illegal.
So here are my ‘you can do this right away and with little or no cost’ ideas for making your rural property more secure from thieves:
- Be very careful who you invite onto your property, or who other people invite. I’m thinking primarily about contractors you hire to do work who then hire sometimes questionable folk to assist (especially if you’re hiring on the low end of the fixed-price or hourly rate scale. I don’t want to accuse anyone (because I honestly have no idea) but it wouldn’t surprise me if the fire wood thieves were connected with the crew who were working on that property to move the house on a few days previous – maybe even friends or acquaintances). I’ve heard many a story about ‘workers’ or their buddies who took advantage of the trusted positions provided them working in homes and on properties to help themselves to a few things. A sad state of affairs, indeed – effectively, you’ve paid them twice. Hopefully the work was good…
- Always park a vehicle in the driveway/garage. Obviously this is challenging if you’re out or away in the only vehicle you have, but if there’s any way to have a car, truck or van parked near the house when you’re away, it will at least put a question mark in any would-be thieves’ heads. And questions in a thief’s mind are a good thing – you won’t be seen as easy a target.
- If you’re going to be away, do the standard thing with the lighting timers, and preferably have someone you trust come stay for a few days. At minimum, someone should be by to check on your property daily, at varying times so there’s no routine being observed by any goofs lurking about. If you have livestock, this would be the case anyway, but something to keep in mind even if you don’t. You also might even want to put up a ‘Video Surveillance’ sign or two (always good to create the question in any potential theif’s head: “Do they or don’t they?”). And if you can, leave radios on timers. In the country, you’re not disturbing anyone, and you might just keep that squirrel out of your attic as a bonus (apparently there are certain types of music they don’t like – who knew?).
- Get to know your neighbours. Of course, if a member of their household is the thief, you’ve got a whole other problem. We had this exact scenario when we were growing up – one particular neighbourhood kid was notorious for breaking into homes and stealing, well, just about anything he could get his hands on. He was a super friendly guy, smiling and chatting one moment then stealing your power tools later that afternoon. And he wasn’t scared – of anything. So one day, my Dad put the fear into him saying that if he ever took anything from our place… well, I’ll let you imagine how the rest of that sentence played out. It worked – we were, I think, the only house in the neighbourhood who never had a break-in. Just sayin’… (Note: this guy wasn’t violent, though – not a tactic I’d really recommend these days, but rather an anecdote to share… Your and your family’s safety is, of course, your first priority.)) Hopefully if you know your neighbours a bit and they’re trustworthy, they’ll be willing to peer over the fence every once in awhile for you.
- Keep an eye on what’s going on in your community. Every week, I scan through the police reports in our local paper. Not something I would have ever imagined myself doing before moving here, but it helps me stay up to speed on where there are ‘hotspots’ of petty crime. Also, talk to people at the farm store and other places rural dwellers tend to congregate. In other words, just keep your ears open and your eyes peeled. Needless to say, the more rural you are, the less turkeys will be around to take advantage of opportunities, but the further you are from other eyeballs who can keep an eye on your place. It’s a good thing to do, regardless.
- Make sure any power tools or anything of value is stored out of site. Some one our Facebook page shared a story about someone stealing his pick-up truck from a woodlot while he was about 100 feet away, but slightly out of sight. And he’d left his jacket on the tailgate, so not only did the thief/thieves get his truck, but also his wallet. Anything that’s left out in view – portable generators, expensive tools, chain saws, lawn mowers – anything that’s not tied down is a potential target to someone casing your place, so be sure to put everything away (preferably in a locked building/shed) when you’re finished… or even if you just take a lunch break.
So there you have it – 6 easy, no cost ways you can build a more secure homestead. Some take a bit of effort (like getting to know your neighbours), but it’s worth it. Do you have any tips on rural security to share? Any stories where you’ve had stuff stolen and made security changes as a result? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!