Farmers Forum staff
Farm theft and trespassing incidents are increasing, and sadly, it’s a trend that is expected to continue as people struggle with inflation and growing fears of economic recession, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture reports.
“Crops and livestock are easy targets for thieves, along with equipment, fuel and other high value farm items that may not always be protected,” said OFA director Tracey Arts. “Although some thefts are crimes of opportunity, professional criminals are increasingly engaging in daytime thefts as they’ve come to learn that many people in rural areas are away from their properties during the day.”
Watch for unknown tire tracks, discarded cigarettes, garbage, or alcohol containers on or near your property, as well as drones flying overhead that may be collecting information for theft or activism, Arts said. Locations can be scouted before they are targeted, whether for theft or even anti-agricultural activist activity, so keep an eye out for people who look out of place or who are taking photos of vehicles or people.
Be careful what you post on social media about where your farm is located, or if you’re going to be away. The OFA recommends security lighting and video surveillance, which does not have to be costly. Also ensure clear vision from the house to the valuable equipment. Don’t leave keys in machines and lock fuel tanks. Farmers should also take photos of their inventory and record security numbers of tools.
It’s not always theft that brings people onto farm properties without permission, though. Some people are looking for that perfect Instragram photo in a field of sunflowers, pumpkins or canola, she said. Then there are hunters and when the snow flies, winter sport enthusiasts, including snowmobiling.
“My family farms in Oxford County and we often deal with people riding their all-terrain vehicles through our property or using our land for horseback riding without our permission,” Arts said. “Not only is that trespassing, but what may seem like an innocent outdoor activity actually causes damage on the farm.”
She also noted that maple syrup sap lines under snow can cause unexpected injury and livestock farmers fear animal diseases from trespassing.
It’s important for Ontarians to be aware that they need to ask permission before they enter private property, she said. “According to law enforcement, posting clearly visible ‘no trespassing’ signs is the best way to let people know they are not welcome to roam your property without your consent. Although signs won’t necessarily keep intruders out, having them clearly visible at every entry to your property will help build a case with police if you do have an incident.”