A friend of mine gets all worked up about the security of his guns. He?s always worrying about break-ins, fussing about where he leaves his car and so forth. This is laudable, but I have to admit that, taken to extremes, his security mania is slightly irritating.

Naturally, I take precautions. My guns are locked up in a safe that far exceeds the legal requirements. The tractor and quad bike are also properly shut away and immobilised at night. But in doing this, I must confess that I was motivated by a recent letter from my insurers, reminding me that quad bikes and the like are not covered unless they have been properly secured.

We get a few trespassers where I live, most of them on foot. Often, they are people who are lost. I don?t get too worried about them, though I always try to have a chat to establish what they are doing and where they would like to go. I am much more concerned about vehicles.

We sometimes get people leaving cars on our land and the police have told us to notify them every time it happens. Once, I found a red Transit van parked in my farmyard, out of sight from the house. The back doors of the van were open and a stranger was walking around inside my barn. On being challenged, he said that he was ?just looking?, then departed hastily. What made it all the more creepy was that he had been parked up on a public road a mile away when I first saw him. He watched me leave the farm, then, in my rear-view mirror, I saw him start up and turn down the little road towards my place. I had an uneasy feeling, so I turned round and went back after him. That?s how I came to find him in my yard.

Following police advice

More recently, the police emailed to ask us to watch out for strange vehicles, as the locality was being targeted by thieves. A few days later, I saw a car that I didn?t recognise bowling along my private road. I was just heading out and had to reverse to let it pass. I didn?t recognise the person driving it, so, as it drew level, I got out and made a comment about the awful weather. I then politely inquired about the driver?s purpose in being on my road. She got extremely huffy, saying that she was going to visit a property farther up (which has a private right of way). I explained that it was my road and that I had every right to check who was on it. She went on her way, nose out of joint.

Shortly after that, the owner of the property in question came storming down and accused me of all sorts of things. Later, in the ensuing argument, I mentioned the police advice. He basically accused me of making it all up.

Where there?s a will…

Only a few weeks later, a highly organised gang of thieves stole a brand new quad bike from a remote farm right up at the end of the private road in question. They came in the early hours on a wet, windy night. It seems that they walked in across the fields, leaving a lookout at the highest point. They stole the quad from the farmyard, then drove it back down my road right past the property of the person who had ridiculed my mention of the police advice. The bike was a diesel, with a distinctive exhaust note that he recognised as it went past. He assumed that it was the farmer.

I heard nothing. We have a number of battery-operated Stealth Cams (bought a while ago from Bushwear), but none were set on the road that particular night. And even if one had been, presumably all it would have shown would have been a well-muffled figure on the farmer?s quad.

The sad fact is that if a criminal really wants to get your property, they can always find a way. All we can do is to take reasonable precautions.

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