September 5, 2008

Thieves love farm bikes

Four-wheeler ATVs are top of thieves shopping lists this spring, and it seems that the market cannot be satisfied. I saw a lovely little two-wheel-drive ATV recently in very good order that had been bought "from a mate" for $300. Even though it's low powered, you have to wonder about its history.

People leaving suburbia for the attractions of a rural lifestyle are very disappointed to find that rural thieves are as active as the ones they left in town. Crime prevention consultants say that rural criminals are often the same ones who cause mayhem in town. Consultants point out that rural thieves are after all the usual house contents, but have the added easy pickings of farm equipment, machinery and livestock.

Stolen farm bikes have a wide market from beach and bush recreation, to servicing dope plantations in the bush. But the kids ATVs and small two-wheelers are also very attractive to thieves. Police say bikes are top of the burglar lists in July and August and into spring. This could be because they themselves e.g. dope growers are starting to get busy, but more likely is the fact that the receivers of these stolen goods are rural folk who are also busy on the land.

One issue is that for most farm jobs these days, employers expect staff to supply their own bikes. As this is an expensive capital item for a young person on wages, there's clearly a demand for cheaper machines, so something offered for sale with no questions asked fits the bill perfectly.

Staff providing their own farm bike has become part of employment culture and is based on the fact that people treat their own bikes better than the one belonging to the boss. This is true, but there's a change apparent in recent advertisements for employees, due to the severe staff shortage on farms. More potential employers are highlighting "farm bike supplied" as a special feature of the job. This is a welcome trend.

The old Kiwi rural culture of not locking doors, gates, sheds and now bikes has got to change, according to police. People living on lifestyle blocks need to be especially vigilant and be "nosey-parkers" checking anything out of the ordinary on their properties or those of their neighbours.

Lifestyle farmers make it easy for rural thieves. Houses are built two paddocks apart and surrounded by trees, so Rural neighbourhood support groups need to be more proactive, to keep an eye on each other's properties.

Note down registration numbers of strange cars with occupants supposedly looking for a named person or lost dog. Police advise to ask for identification from anyone on your property, and if your neighbours are at work, let them know they had callers during the day.

Added to this, a specialist security companies can now offer a wide choice of security alarms available for rural buildings, vehicles and gateways. The gateway alarms can alert owners when visitors arrive, and the message can be relayed to the back of a hill country farm. It's also even possible to video the arrival of your guests– whether they are invited or not, and this information can be stored on your home PC for later analysis.

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