Theft from farms, also known as praedial larceny, is a huge problem, especially in the Caribbean. Billions of dollars in losses.
Trinidad and Tobago- 11.3 million over a six month period.
Jamaica- 55 million over a one year period.
Belize- 300,000.00 annually.
St. Vincent- 2.3 million annually.
Bahamas- 16 million from the marine industry.
Jamaica- 12/24/13- 32 young heifers stolen in Trelawney.
Farmers have been forced out of business, aquaculture operations have closed because of constant attacks by organized criminal gangs. They are bold and are rarely caught. A number of government agencies have addressed the problem, but actions have been slow to take effect, and are mostly reactive. We suggest using a much more PROactive approach to the problem of farm theft.
Common sense dictates that the premises install some form of barrier, such as a basic fence. Then, a combination of long-range photobeams around the area to be protected. Cameras with long-range IR illumination to view the protected area. Beams to be connected to an alarm control that will send a signal to a monitoring office. There, upon receiving a signal, the operators can go on line and view the cameras. An immediate response is vital. Preferably armed. Responders can be guided to where the intrusion took place, and apprehend or drive off the intruders. Farmers are also encouraged to take a drive around the farm at random times to monitor activity or hire security; monitor and report any trespassers or unknown vehicles on the farm and, where possible, keep any farm building or roads to farm land well lit.
It is not necessary to surround the entire area, but the path the expected intruders will take will be hardened. I have seen these systems be extremely effective. Several years ago, I installed a system along these lines for a farmer in Homestead FL. Two separate 5 acre groves, mango and lychee. This was, by necessity, a sophisticated system, using solar power for the beams, and wireless alarm signals back to the farmhouse. Two weeks after completion, the farmer received a signal, grabbed his shotgun and two big dogs, and went out to investigate. He found a new van that had been driven through his fence line, which broke the beam. He heard the intruders in his grove and fired a shot from his shotgun into the air. They ran in the opposite direction, leaving the truck. Very little loss as they dropped their bags when they ran off. Investigating Sherriff’s officer made sure that he got legal title to the truck. That was a happy customer. Technology has improved since then, and battery powered beams are available now eliminating the need for solar power cells. Battery life of 3 years.
This technology is not inexpensive, so some government support will be necessary. As praedial larceny directly attacks food security, this support will be politically attractive. A balanced approach can give effective results and a protected food chain.
Efforts have been made to ensure that this problem is taken seriously by the authorities, to insure prison for offenders, and to make purchase of stolen property punishable. These efforts must be continued and supported. Trying to convince consumers that buying these products is a bad idea is definitely an important part of the program. Some farmers have even said that they would poison their fruit if it is just going to be stolen!
For installing dealers, there are benefits as well. There will be ongoing revenue for monitoring and response. Each market will have to decide what these charges will be, but ongoing recurring revenue is always a good thing. Demands on Central Station personnel will be moderate. Guards need to be motivated and fast. Training is vital.
Considering that maintaining the status quo will just guarantee that the problems will get worse, with increasing pressure on the vulnerable farmers and legitimate business people, it is vital that real action commence. Food security is a vital concern everywhere. And in areas where so much has to be imported, at high cost, protecting native products is even more important.
To quote a Barbadian official, “ It constitutes a loss of livelihood and income to farmers and those losses threaten the viability and profitability of farming enterprises. Praedial larceny also hinders the development of the sector as the farming community becomes discouraged; and theft hampers the country’s efforts to improve food security as disillusioned farmers exit the sector, thus increasing the strain on the national food supply.”
In addition to losses by land farmers, fishermen and aquaculture businesses have been affected severely. Boats are stolen or stripped, farmed fish and shrimp are taken at night, and losses can drive people out of business, creating even more stress on local food sources. If a fisherman loses his boar or motor, he may be unable to purchase a replacement, forcing him out of business. The problem can be addressed, must be addressed. Methods listed above can be used for protection of these areas as well, with the benefit that these would be smaller areas to protect.
An organized mobile patrol service can provide a strong deterrent as well. Marked vehicles, strobe lights flashing, and then no lights for a while. Standard patrol procedures to be followed. This mobile patrol service can also serve as first responders, already being in the area. Again, they should be trained and armed. Full cooperation by the Police Patrols, who should be available for back up.
These problems combine a legal problem, an economic problem, and a political problem. It is necessary for all the parties to address the problem and to involve the general population in dealing with, defeating these criminals that are badly damaging the economies of some quite vulnerable islands. Without quick action, no matter what course is taken, permanent harm will come to these fragile economies.
If you have any questions about these security systems, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to assist in any way possible.