Protecting rural, farm properties from break-ins

Authorities recommend farmers or landowners consider installing cameras or some type of surveillance system, particularly near entrances and exits, as a deterrent for farm break-ins and theft. (Photo courtesy of

Rural and farm properties in central Illinois have seen an increase lately in break-ins and theft.

Over the past month, the McLean County Sheriff’s Office has recovered several thousand dollars of stolen property from the following counties: Champaign, Dewitt, Ford, McLean and Piatt.

McLean County Sheriff’s Office also recently reported the arrest of two people in Saybrook suspected of several machine shed burglaries.

So how do you keep your rural and farm properties and belongings secure? And what measures do you take if you notice suspicious activity, missing items or a break-in?

“Deterrence can be as simple as locking doors or leaving a vehicle outside to give the appearance someone is home,” said Deputy Paolo Mendez, Piatt County Sheriff’s Office. “Another deterrence is cameras on the property. It doesn’t take a lot of cameras; it just takes strategically placed cameras by entrances and exits.”

Police presence can also be a deterrence.

The McLean County Sheriff’s Office can provide extra patrol if suspicious activity is reported. They also recommend surveillance systems, such as deer trail cameras, fences and lights as deterrents to burglars. If the property is unoccupied but there is a trusted neighbor nearby, they could also be asked to keep an eye on the property.

“It’s very hard to protect buildings on properties that don’t have a farmhouse on it,” said Sheriff Mark Doran, Ford County Sheriffs Office. “Many burglars have gained entry by sheds being left open.”

Some Farm Bureau members also provided their personal methods on protecting properties.

Winnebago-Boone County Farm Bureau President Julie Newhouse and her husband, Marshall, use massive lighting and a dog to protect their property.

Scott Halpin, Grundy County, uses a professionally installed surveillance system that monitors his farms and livestock. The system can be monitored through an app on is phone and iPad. He noted the two biggest challenges to surveillance systems are having a strong enough Wi-Fi signal and having cameras with high enough resolution. While Halpin initially tried to use a camera system he bought at the store and set it up himself, Wi-Fi and resolution were both issues. That’s why he turned to a professional at his wireless company that could utilize radio receivers in addition to Wi-Fi.

Reporting suspicious activity, missing items and break-ins is key to mitigating criminal activity.

“Be observant,” said Doran. “If you see something out of place, give us a call. We don’t you to confront them (the suspicious vehicle or person), that’s when people get hurt.”

And again, one of the easiest measures you can do to keep your property, valuables and vehicles secure is to lock your doors.

“The main thing we want to emphasize is locking doors,” said Mendez. “Even if you’re only going out for a short time period, all it takes for a burglary is a short time. Lock houses, lock sheds, lock vehicles, lock equipment. Locking everything up when you’re not there is a best practice.”