The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has said that rural crime increased by nine per cent in 2019, costing the UK £54 million, compared to figures from 2018, and £9.3 million of this was attributed to farm vehicle theft. However, it has been suggested that storage containers could be a deterrent to the rise in farm theft.

The Scottish Farmer reports that a new specialist police unit was created in July this year, to fight the rising tide of organised gangs stealing farm and construction equipment. The Agricultural and Construction Equipment (ACE) unit was conceived to monitor and prevent crime, as well as sharing intelligence to recover stolen goods.

There have been suggestions of steps that farmers can take to further protect themselves and their businesses from criminal gangs. Secure storage containers have been found to be common in the prevention of theft of equipment in many industries, including construction and maintenance, and they could offer the same level of protection for rural industries.

Instead of locking up machinery and vehicles outside, they could be stored in a container as a ‘temporary garage’, which not only creates a barrier between the equipment and the thieves but also hides the machines from view.

A lack of visibility can be a deterrent for thieves, who will not want to risk being caught if they do not know if or what there is worth stealing. The addition of locks and security equipment, including padlocks and security alarm systems, means that storage containers could add a further deterrent to criminals.

An added benefit is that storage containers can be mobile. With the right equipment, storage containers can be easily relocated to any location on a farmer’s land. This means that equipment and machinery can be stored closer to home, or kept close to where it is being used.

There is no need to create permanent structures, and the storage containers can be moved seasonally to suit the work being carried out.

The containers can also be repurposed as a mobile office, complete with surveillance cameras. When away from the land, farmer’s could be left open to theft or damage, but having an on-site office to organise the business side of agriculture, it can send a signal to potential thieves that the land is being watched and protected.

There are still more used for containers in the agriculture industry, as they can be used for the storage of chemicals, which are often the target of criminal gangs, as well as the added benefit of keeping chemicals out of reach.

Chemicals such as pesticides and fertiliser can be dangerous to the farmer, the public, and the environment if not stored correctly.

Keeping chemicals in a converted shipping container can help prevent theft, as well as limit the potential for harm to the public or wildlife, as well as the ability to be able to place containers well away from living spaces, helping to protect a farmer’s family.

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