Extension News

How to Improve Rural Security


By Charles Schwab
Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
Iowa State University Extension

Iowa has a low level of crime compared to the national average and that is good news. Our state even has a lower rate than the Midwest average. However even with that low crime level, in 2007 Iowa reported more than 16,000 incidents of burglary -- the unlawful entry into a building or structure to steal or commit a crime. This level of burglary is down slightly from the last five years but ask any burglary victim if this decrease holds any significance or comfort for them.

Residences or farms were the top targets for burglaries, accounting for about 65 percent of all the burglaries in 2007. It is easy to ignore the possibility that crime can impact you but it is more prudent to take some simple steps to gain additional protection and reduce the likelihood of becoming a burglary victim. Use simple efforts to deter, delay and deny criminals from committing burglary on your acreage.

The first action is to get secure
Have secure deadbolts installed on all external doors to your home, barns and other buildings on the property. Installed them is only half of the effort -- you must use them all the time to be effective. It is also important to add commercially available locks for any sliding glass doors or use a rod in the track to prevent burglars from prying it open.

Windows are the next entry point of burglars so examine your windows. Adding a sliding bolt or screw connection improves double-hung window security. You need to pay extra attention to basement windows. Windows at ground or below ground level are easy access points for burglars.

Keep your vehicles locked when they’re not being used. Never leave your keys in the vehicle or equipment. When you store valuables in your vehicle, (such as computers, small electronic devices, tools, and purses) you must keep those items out of sight. If burglars don’t see a reason to break in your vehicle they won’t.

Check your lights
Keep your home, driveway, barns and other buildings illuminated at night. Nobody wants spotlights on your property all night so consider motion sensors that active light when there is activity. Bright lights and good illumination makes criminals think twice about approaching because they don’t wish to be seen. It is also a good idea to use timers on several indoor lights in the home giving the appearance that someone is at home.

Examine your landscaping
Trim bushes and other plants that hide doors, windows or block your security lights. This eliminates hiding places for would-be burglars and adds another level of protection.

Assess your vulnerability and identify the possible threat for burglary to better understand your risk. These are just a few basic options available to assist you in making your acreage secure and less likely to be targeted by burglars. Depending upon your level of concern or knowledge about recent burglaries in your area, there are more options such as a barking dog, an acreage watch group and high tech electronic alarm systems.

Additional information

Map of Iowa burglary rate by county for 2007
in the online March 2009 issue of Acreage Living.


Contacts :

Charles Schwab, Ag & Biosystems Engineering, (515) 294-4131, cvschwab@iastate.edu

Lynette Spicer , Extension Communications, (515) 294-1327, lspicer@iastate.edu