Agricultural Theft Is On The Rise: Water and copper top thieves’ lists.
Agricultural theft is pummeling American farmers
Farms large and small are filled with items that are valuable on the dark market and therefore make tempting targets for thieves. You may not even realize that many items on your farm are on thieves’ “most wanted” lists, such as keys, license plates, and lumber. But the biggest targets of farms today are two things found in abundance because they are necessary to keep farms running as profitably as possible: copper wiring and water.
Don't let copper theft steal your hard-earned harvest
Copper wiring in circle irrigation and other irrigation equipment is a prime target for theft, as pivots are usually in locations that are unmonitored and vulnerable (especially in the middle of the night). Copper wiring in pivots is easily accessed, and there’s a lot of it.
But pivots aren’t the only place that copper thieves get their loot. Underground copper wiring for powering irrigation equipment was recently stolen from a sod farm in Bixby, Oklahoma., causing $27,000 in damage. Once thieves realize they can access and steal copper from a farm, they’re likely to return against and again.
It’s tragic when copper wiring is stolen from farmers, because not only can repairs cost tens of thousands of dollars for copper that won’t get more than a few hundred dollars at a recycling center, but it can also cause crop failure. When copper is stolen from irrigation equipment, particularly in very hot weather, farmers can lose their entire harvest, creating devastating financial consequences. With Covid-19 supply chain issues still in effect, finding replacement parts is harder than ever, and farmers could be waiting weeks or longer to fix their irrigation equipment while their harvest is dying in the heat.
Theft of the world’s most precious resource: water
Especially in the arid west, water bills are rising, and the panic over water shortages and droughts connected to climate change and population growth have made water one of the hottest topics for politicians, activists, investors, farmers and thieves. As cities raise rates to cover infrastructure updates and encourage conservation in areas where water is scarce, water theft increases in response.
Agricultural water theft takes many forms, including water tankers filling illegally on farm property, thieves emptying water storage tanks, people drilling wells without permission, and tapping into streams and creeks on another’s property or otherwise illegally. Stealing water is a crime, with fees anywhere from $25 for a first offense to $500 or more for subsequent offenses. But that only deters water thieves so much. And when you depend on an accessible water supply to irrigate crops or livestock, water theft can have catastrophic consequences with crop failure and livestock death/illness.
How farmers can protect themselves
New laws are going into effect to protect American farmers from agricultural theft, like Senate Bill 224 signed into law by Gov. Newsom in California. While laws may help deter some agricultural theft, when the dark market value of what is stolen is higher than the fines associated with the crime, deterring crime is hard to do. The best thing that farmers can do to protect themselves is to fortify their valuable water and copper assets as best as possible.
Security measures that could help prevent agricultural theft include:
- Additional lighting (including motion-sensing lighting) around target areas such as wells, storage areas, irrigation equipment, roads, gates, and entryways.
- Electric security fencing around high-value targets such as warehouses or barns where irrigation equipment or copper wiring is stored, cisterns, water pumps, and wells.
- Video surveillance equipment placed at strategic locations throughout the farm, such as near gates, entryways, critical transportation junctions, irrigation equipment, etc.
- Alarms connected to all the systems listed above, notifying the farmer the farmer or staff of movement near critical targets while simultaneously alerting local police and security monitoring personnel, as well.
Is your farm’s security system strong enough to keep thieves out?
Find out with a complimentary Threat Assessment from AMAROK. One of our security experts will assess your current system, look at crime trends in your area, and see if there are additional measures you should take to keep your farm safe from copper and water thieves (and the devastation they can cause). Schedule yours now!