Follow these steps to swiftly handle the situation and to help avoid future incidents
By Megan Wild
Spring is here and it’s arguably the most important time of year for farm managers. It's time to dust off all the equipment you stored over the winter and get ready for planting. But if someone has defaced your equipment, left it broken or in disrepair, or stolen your fuel, it can be difficult to get the ball rolling. What should you do when someone defaces your equipment?
Call the police
The first step in any vandalism case is to call the police. Vandalism is a crime in all 50 states, though the severity of the crime depends on the value of the property damaged. Calling the police is a good idea for multiple reasons – it notifies them of a past or current crime which allows them to start investigating.
If the vandals are caught, they can no longer damage your equipment – and you can also seek restitution in some cases. Once the investigation is underway, get a copy of the police report from your local station – you will need it for the next step.
Contact your insurance broker
Step two is to contact your insurance provider. Chances are you have some type of insurance to protect you in the event of equipment destruction, whether caused by a vandal, a natural disaster or an Act of God.
Your agent will likely ask you for the police report. He/she may also ask you to get an estimate for repair. This follows standard procedure – the broker will want to know how much money it has to pay to get your equipment repaired or replaced.
Take the time to go over your insurance policy to find out what is covered. Depending on whether you rent, lease or own that piece of equipment, the deductible you end up paying will vary. For example, according to Riggs Cat, if you rent equipment that ends up damaged, and purchased a rental protection plan, you will only pay 20 per cent of the repair cost up to the maximum deductible.
However, if you own the equipment, some insurance providers require that each individual piece of equipment is listed on its own, while others offer a blanket policy that covers all of your equipment up to a certain amount.
Know the ins and outs of your policy or take some time to talk to your farm insurance agent to get all of your questions answered.
Take steps to prevent it
Whether your equipment was defaced by a random group of teens that wandered onto your property or a former, disgruntled employee who is upset about his/her termination, you can take some steps to protect your investment or, at least, to provide evidence to the police if vandalism occurs. These include:
- Closed circuit surveillance – Install security camera on your property to keep track of your equipment and who is using it or around it. This security tactic is especially important in barns and other storage areas where equipment might be parked.
- Install fences – In a large farming operation, it might not be feasible to install fences around your entire property – but you can install them around your equipment storage areas. While a fence won't discourage a determined vandal, it can help to discourage someone who might be looking to stir up some trouble.
- Have a security survey completed – Bring in a security professional to look over your farm and determine where you have holes in your security. This survey should be the first thing you do before installing any security measures. There's no point in installing security cameras or fences if you don't know the best places to put them.
- Create a good inventory – Having a good inventory can help you keep track of everything that you're supposed to have on your property.
- Light it up – Well-illuminated areas deter vandals from defacing equipment. The punch is that much greater if the area has security cameras, too. Keep equipment storage areas well-lit to discourage vandals and thieves.
While it isn't always possible to avoid theft or damages to your equipment, it is still important to be proactive and take every step you can to protect your investment – and your ability to plant and harvest your crops.