After learning of several theft cases in the industry, we wanted to offer some information and advice on how you can protect your equipment.
What are the basic measures that clubs should do to protect their equipment from theft?
Quite simply, make life difficult for the criminal. Lights, noise, obstructions, alarms, disabling or positioning equipment to slow a burglar down or dissuade from even trying.
Have you experienced any theft attempts at your club? How did you prepare for this type of thing? Did the prevention measures work?
My club has been targeted three times over the last five years, but we did not lose any equipment. The grounds container was entered using an angle grinder, but nothing was taken I believe because of the way the equipment was configured and the difficulty and time to move items to get to the roller and fine turf mowers. Security was further enhanced post-incident. The pavilion has been targeted with the loss of some bar stock and lessons learned and a crime reduction strategy has been implemented to prevent further attacks. Interestingly, the damage caused on the three attacks was far more costly than any items stolen.
What would be your most important advice for clubs that are trying to improve their security?
As a retired senior police officer, who has investigated thousands of burglaries and interviewed hundreds of offenders, my advice is to put yourself in the mind of the criminal. Keep it simple and think about what would prevent an attack on your club. Start from an access point to slow down or stop an offender even targeting the building; make life difficult, place physical obstacles in the way etc. Then, concentrate on the building or container by making it difficult - firstly to access by placing implements across the entry points (light roller, boxes, bins, etc).
Install passive infrared lighting, but ensure it is fixed at a high level so as not to be disabled. Fit an alarm; either connected to the main building or a stand-alone tremor alarm inside the building or connected to the equipment. Ideally, an alarm system that activates an audible alarm that is also connected to mobile devices notifying club members.
Let's be clear:
If someone is determined to steal grounds equipment, they will eventually succeed. We all need to be vigilant.
Encourage club members, players, residents and dog walkers to visit the club regularly so there is no pattern to visitors and a higher chance of being disturbed.
Position your equipment, particularly the most important and expensive, in such a way that it is difficult to move and think about disabling. Ensure you know serial numbers and consider security marking the equipment. The task is to make the reward not worth the effort!
Article by Martin Darlow - Former Senior Police Officer and Chairman of his local cricket club
CASE STUDY: Prevention is the key at Dearne and District FC
Chairman Antonio Jamasb Bala Shahri, told us about the recent theft that the club has fallen victim to, which saw an array of their equipment taken.
Antonio was shocked to learn that one of the storage units had been broken into after the club had already gone to lengths to ensure the safety of its equipment; "We're quite secure in our premises because we have quite a lot of equipment, which is spread across the site in several units. We've got loads of cameras everywhere that alert our phones, but we missed that, so we will now have to give more people access to keep track." Antonio insists that the club will now implement more security measures than ever to prevent this from happening again in the future and said "Putting alarms on and displaying smart water stickers isn't enough."
Antonio highlighted the extent of damage caused, as well as why he wants to raise concern; "They cut through the fencing, which will cost £200 to replace and they also cut off the anti-theft box, so that's left us exposed to future thefts." He added; "To buy the exact machine that we had before (which we purchased for around £11,000), it's now about £26,000. We don't have that cash and the insurance won't cover it." In total, the club lost a tractor, toolbox, drag mat and other fertiliser equipment amounting to thousands of pounds.
Antonio thinks raising awareness is the key; "Greenkeepers and groundsmen might have to stop showing what they've got to offer, in order to ensure that the equipment isn't exposed. I think you need to raise awareness about the fact that these thefts are going on and also raise awareness to make sure security is good enough."