Barns are easy targets for criminals. They are usually accessible, monitored and unsecured, full of animals that can’t raise an alarm of an intruder in their midst. Risk of being caught stealing a horse or equipment and being convicted of the crime is low. Does this sound like your barn?
If you are in a rural setting, with large distances between your neighbors, monitoring the access to your property and the activities of anyone on the premises is crucial to deterring crime. You need to be aware at all times of anything or anyone that is out of place.
The installation of security equipment is one of the best things you can do to deter horse thefts and criminal activity on your property. Thanks to technology, there are several choices that you have as a horse and property owner when it comes to surveillance equipment, alarm systems and anti-theft devices.
The easiest method to protect your barn and property from unwelcome intruders are security gates. These can range from a simple, heavy-duty chain stretched across the driveway to a formal fenced gate with a remote access. there are battery-powered systems just like the one that operates your remote garage door opener to pen and close a gate. Security with digital keypads may be installed professionally at a cost of approximately $500. This may seem like overkill to some smaller horse operations, but it is a serious deterrent to criminal activity.
Another option is an infrared sensor installed at the entrance to your property. Some of these systems can range up to 1,000 feet while others can transmit an alerting signal for miles. Of course, you need to be home to see or hear the alarm, but these systems may be linked to your hoe security system for added monitoring. Consult with a professional security system installer to determine if wireless monitor technology is right for your barn and premises.
Cameras that are strategically placed around your property and in your barn are excellent crime deterrents. They can be installed anywhere, indoors and out, and can be monitored on your television or computer. Good locations for camera placement are in the arena, where your trailer and farm equipment are parked, the hay storage building, and any remote pastures. They can be programmed to record constantly, or at intervals.
Exterior lights are another very effective tool against crime. Install them over each entrance/exit to the barn and arena, by all paddocks, pastures and pens, and along your driveway. If your pastures are large and remote, consider installing solar-powered lights along the fence at intervals, especially in hidden areas of your property. Exterior lights can be economical to install and operate, and are cheap insurance against crime. Use motion sensor lighting combined with exterior lights to provide an extra boos to security.
Lastly, there are many livestock guarding dog breeds that will guard horse as readily as sheep or goats. Breeds such as the Great Pyrenees and Maremma are bred specifically for their strong instincts for protection and they have the muscle to back their barks up if someone threatens “their” herd.
Short of having your property patrolled by security personnel 24/7, what steps can you take to restrict trespassers and to thwart criminals and arsonists?
Don’t follow a daily routine to the letter. Come and go at various times throughout the day, and close the garage door when leaving. Keep the doors of all building and sheds, including the barn, closed and locked when not in use. This includes the feed room, the hay barn, and the tack room.
Keep your horse trailer inaccessible by storing it inside a locked building when not in use. If you do not have trailer parking available inside a building, park it so that it is not hidden from your view but cannot be seen from the road. Keep the doors locked and check them to make sure they stay that way.
Pay special attention to security if your horse or his herd-mates are kept at pasture:
- Remove halters. Do not store them on pasture gates.
- Do not feed close to the road or gate.
- Keep the gates under lock and key.
- Check on pastured horses regularly and vary the times throughout the day and night.
- Maintain the pasture fence. Install lights at the corners and/or regular intervals along the fence line for added protection.
Better yet, do not leave horses unattended in pastures overnight. They are easy, approachable victims for vandalism, torture and theft.
Excerpted from When Barn Fire Strikes: How to Protect Your Horses and Facilities from Barn Fires, Wildfires, and Other Emergencies by Kim Mariette.