Take a look at your own property very closely, start at the perimeter fence and think about an onion - as you work towards the centre of the onion it gets tighter and tighter - that's how you should think about the whole of your property!
The Perimeter and Approaches
The farm perimeter is the first hurdle for a criminal to overcome. As well as making it physically difficult, it is possible to put them off psychologically.
Ask yourself - what does the outer perimeter of my property look like to a visitor?
Keep everything as tidy as feasibly possible; rubbish cleared away, hedges trimmed, fences in good repair. Simple but highly effective! A well cared for property is daunting to the opportunist thief and the chance of detection is planted in the criminal's mind.
Hedges - make these thick and not easily penetrated; choose something like hawthorn, hedging rose or holly as they all have sharp thorns - privet, yew and laurel are also effective.
Walls - stone or brick should be regularly inspected and maintained. Damage should be repaired and any graffiti removed as soon as possible.
Gates - A closed gate, particularly one both closed and secured gives a clear "keep out" signal and denies access by vehicle except to the most determined thief.
Where possible, gates should be self-closing and double gates secured with close shackled padlocks to prevent attack with bolt cutters. Chains should be substantial, preferably made of high tensile steel.
Keep the hinges in good repair - check the gates can't be lifted off - if you are unsure, burr over the top of the hinge pin or weld on a piece of metal; a large nut often works well.
Fences - again, good quality, well maintained are a "must", particularly if animals are kept in the area.
Electric fencing is regularly in use to control animals and extra thought is necessary. Batteries are attractive to thieves so putting them at the furthest point from the road and having them brightly and uniquely painted, preferably with a postcode, reduces their value.
"Problem locations" - some fields and outlying paddocks are extremely difficult to secure. Encouraging legitimate use of land via footpaths and bridleways, while occasionally controversial, does improve surveillance during your absence.
Some land is "set aside" about which the rules are strict and ever changing. The most recent advice does suggest that the Authority will consider applications if there is a crime prevention need. Illegal coursing of dogs and unlawful camping come to mind as "in need of prevention".