How safe is my farm: Australian-first initiative to help keep Victorian farms safe and secure

Person wearing gloves while tending to a barbed wire fence on a rural property

Nicola Dowse

Posted March 01, 2023

A new online tool launched by Neighbourhood Watch is available for Victorian farmers to identify and take steps to help keep their farms safe from crime.

The variety of criminal offences farm owners face range from relatively minor crimes, such as smashed windows, or serious incidents such as having several hundred livestock stolen – costing tens of thousands of dollars.

Developed in consultation with Victoria Police and supported by RACV, How safe is my farm is a new, Australian-first online tool that helps get Victorian farmers reflect on the security of their property and identify ways of minimising their risks.

How safe is my farm is an Australian-first tool that teaches farmers how to do the simple things to secure their properties,” says Bambi Gordon, CEO of Neighbourhood Watch Victoria.

“Back in the day, we left doors open and didn’t expect that we could be a victim. Times have changed. But on the upside, we know that theft is often opportunistic. If we can remove the opportunity, we can prevent crime from occurring.”

The free online tool asks a series of easy-to-answer questions about the farm set-up and security arrangements. The tool then presents users with a personalised report on their farm’s safety.

During 2022, more than 2,000 criminal offences were committed on Victorian farms according to the Victorian Crime Statistics Agency.

Dr Alistair Harkess, Co-Director of the Centre for Rural Criminology at the University of New England says that farm crime can have marked impacts on rural communities.

“It can be costly, disruptive and mentally straining so the best way to avoid becoming a victim of farm crime is to do whatever possible to prevent offending from happening in the first place,” he says.

 “That’s why the innovative How safe is my farm tool from Neighbourhood Watch is invaluable. It lets farmers conduct an audit to see where vulnerabilities might exist and to think carefully about what crime prevention measures might be implemented to improve safety and security.”

A graph showing rates of farm crime over several years

Data shows 1,251 livestock and firearm thefts were committed on Victorian farms in 2022. Image: Getty. 

What types of crimes occur on farms in Victoria?

When it comes to the offences recorded on farms, one type of offence dominates by far.

Theft, including theft of livestock and firearms, accounts for more than 60 per cent of all crimes committed on farms, with 1,251 such offences recorded on farms in 2022.

Burglary and break and enter is the next most common offence recorded on farms (413 offences), followed by property damage (256 offences). Incidents of arson were recorded on farms 100 times in 2022, which is on a steady downward trend since peaking at 286 annual offences in 2016.

There were also 36 reported cases of deception in 2022 - a criminal act where a person intentionally deceives another for their own benefit (or for the benefit of someone else).


Two rural sheds and a wind turbine at sunrise

Locking tools and machinery in a shed or another secure location can help reduce the risk of theft. Image: Getty.  

How to improve security on your property

Farms can apply many of the same security principles that are recommended for urban properties – urban residents can use a similar tool from Neighbourhood Watch, How safe is my place, to assess their home’s security and safety.

First and foremost, having lockable gates, sheds, doors and windows can prevent opportunistic crimes and make your farm less attractive to criminals. Don’t leave keys in the ignition of quad bikes, utes and similar machinery and lock them away when not in use.

Keeping fences well maintained and any shrubbery or hedges trimmed can deter criminals, as can installing motion sensor lights and security cameras. Keep detailed records of valuable items, tools, machinery and equipment, including serial numbers and photographs.

Getting to know your neighbours and actively looking out for one another makes it harder for criminals to go undetected on your land, while tagging and keeping an up-to-date log of any livestock on your property is also a good idea.

If you suspect a crime is or has been committed on your property call Crime Stoppers (1800 333 000) or your local police. 


The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product issued by Insurance Australia Ltd, ABN 11 000 016 722, AFS Licence No. 227681.