was finally the weekend. Spring turkey season had arrived and all Neal Windley
of Norfolk, Va., wanted to do was get to his farm, change into his camouflage
and get into the woods. What he found when he arrived not only put a halt to his
weekend of hunting, it also cost him thousands of dollars in repair and prevention.
hunt camp was demolished. Windows were broken, a television and other items were
missing and the once clean and comfortable house had been turned into a disaster
area. Sadly, that was not the first time this had happened. Vandals had trashed
his camp two other times. Sweeping up glass and filling out police reports were
not what he had in mind when he and a good friend originally bought the land in
the early 1990s.
farm has most of the conveniences of home, and I guess that’s what makes it so
appealing to be there,” Windley said of the camp located in southeast Virginia.
“It’s a personal thing to be violated like that. It really makes me angry.”
all, more than $3,000 worth of damage and loss of property occurred during the
three break-ins. This prompted Windley to spend an additional $1,200 on preventative
measures, such as installing a security system and new dead-bolt locks.
a shame to know we have to go through all this trouble just to hunt,” Windley
said. In rural Edgefield County, S.C., where the National Wild Turkey Federation
is headquartered, there are many hunt camps, and each summer, they become a target
for thieves and vandals. According to Edgefield County Sheriff Adell Dobey, taking
a few precautionary measures can ensure your possessions will be just as you left
them last hunt season.
best way to prevent someone from breaking in is to give the appearance that someone
is home,” Dobey said. “If practical, leave a radio or television playing, put
your lights on a timer or leave an unused vehicle in the driveway. These are good
ways to keep trespassers away.”
way to keep your hunt camp safe is to make the local authorities aware that you
are going to be away. Talk to the sheriff’s department, U.S. Forest Service and
local conservation law enforcement office in the area. Each of these offices makes
regular patrols and can help protect your hunt camp.
to Capt. Mike England of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, leaving
keys to your property’s gates is a good way to help your local conservation office
watch your place while you are away.
relationship between you and your local ranger can play an important role in keeping
your hunt camp safe,” England said. “Different hunting clubs will contact us and
give us a list of their phone numbers, their vehicle descriptions and a key to
the gate. This allows us to keep an eye on things during non hunting seasons.”
more than 450,000 members across North America, many who own or lease their own
hunting property, the NWTF is interested in helping these sportsmen and women
and others like them protect their land and valuables.
and vandalism are not just urban concerns. These crimes can affect hunters and
rural landowners as well,” said Tammy Sapp, NWTF vice president of communications.
“It’s even something I’ve had to deal with in my personal life. We hope these
tips help prevent thieves and vandals from ruining your hunt.”
NWTF suggests the following additional tips for keeping your hunt camp safe during
the off season.
Make sure to take as many of your valuables with you as possible to eliminate
the risk of them being stolen while you are away.
Make sure all your valuables are locked away. Spending a few more dollars on quality
locks and dead bolts will deter thieves and vandals that much more. Though costly,
installing a security system is another way to have piece of mind that your possessions
Record all serial numbers and put distinguishing marks on all items. By keeping
a record of serial numbers, it will help police recover stolen items, such as
ATVs, electronic equipment or generators. Put marks or recognizable numbers on
tree stands and blinds. This can help law enforcement agents identify these items
in the field if they are stolen.
Photograph expensive goods and keep them in a safe place. Photographs can better
help police identify stolen items.
Make sure you have insurance. Keep your insurance policy up to date and make sure
it includes boats, ATVs or any item that may not be covered under a standard homeowner’s
or renter’s policy.
Make friends with a year-round resident in the area or neighbor and ask them to
keep a watch over your property. Offer them a benefit, such as a place to ride
their horses or allowing them to cut hay in one of your fields, in exchange for
keeping an eye on your hunt camp.
Post no trespassing signs at all entrances and along property lines of your land.
Construct gates at every entrance to your property, and keep them locked. Criminals
are less likely to steal large or heavy items, such as appliances, if they have
to carry them long distances.
If possible, store ATVs, tractors, riding mowers and boats inside locked sheds
or barns. Lock and secure these items inside the barn as well. Even if thieves
break into the building, having everything locked up separately may frustrate
them and deter them from stealing everything.
Hide keys (or keep them with you) to outbuildings, gates, ATVs, etc. If a burglar
breaks into your house or lodge, you don’t want to provide them with easy access
to everything else on your property.
the event that a break-in does occur, make sure you contact the local authorities
immediately and stay clear of the crime scene until they arrive.
soon as you observe that there is a break-in, stop where you are and call 911,”
Dobey said. “Moving around the crime scene and touching things may destroy critical
evidence that might be valuable in the case.”