Crime in the Country

A farmer's story

As part of the Galway Advertiser's ongoing series on rural crime, we speak to a farmer in rural Galway, who has been robbed three times, including two nights in a row in July. The man wishes to remain anonymous.

''The farmyard gate is always locked - but for some reason it wasn't that one night in July. I must have been tired or something and just forgot to lock it. The gate would have been locked the other 364 days of the year. I think you are being constantly watched in the countryside nowadays.

They drove into the barn and took a lovely quad trailer, they filled the trailer with everything that was in the barn. They took my powerwasher, alloy wheels, rims, bags of fertiliser, old bicycles, and any scrap that was in there.

But that wasn't the end of the story, the following night we locked the gates and went to bed. I got up in the morning and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the barn door open again. They had hacked and butchered the gate to get in, but they were not able to get in so they obviously climbed over the gate. They had forgotten the creels of the trailer so they came back for them. They also brought all my doses, and pour-ons for sheep and cattle. There is an old house beside the farmyard, they went in there and took the calfing jack, and a weighing scales I use for the sheep.

My father is 90 and he got up at 3.25am and went down to the yard with the dog when he heard the noise and they were just gone. They dropped the calving jack in the middle of the yard as they obviously made a run for it when they heard the dog barking.

They basicially cleaned us out over two nights. The local guard said he never heard of anybody being robbed two nights in a row.

I'd estimate they took around €5,000 worth of stuff in July. We were also robbed in November 2009. They took a big Murphy's cattle trailer at 7 o'clock in the evening that was worth about €5,000. They came into the yard when I was down the field feeding cattle and drove off with my trailer and nobody saw a thing. We live on a very quiet road and they obviously know that very few cars pass.

The guards told me they had no leads on either incident. They don't seem to be able to catch them.

After the second robbery in July, I couldn't sleep. I stayed up for three nights in a row sitting in a chair up in the loft watching. I was convinced they were going to come back again.

I've upped security around the yard. And every night before I go to bed, I put a bale of silage in front of the yard gate. It's terrible that when you get up in the morning you have to lift a bale of silage from the front of your gate, only to place it there again that night. And I know of numerous farmers doing the same thing.

There is a friend of mine calling to me to borrow my trailer, his was stolen at the mart on Tuesday. He is very upset about it. He told me he hasn't done a stroke of work for three days he is so upset. It is hard to concentrate on work when there are people coming in on your property. You feel violated.

My father has got very paranoid now, he didn't sleep at night for a long time after what happened in July. He has put everything on the farm now hiding. I get up in the morning and I don't know where to find anything. It makes me upset to see him upset over it. My three children have got paranoid as well. They would be going down to the yard locking the gate in the evening and double checking it was locked because they 'don't want Daddy's stuff to go again'.

What galls me is that it is a double whammy on hard-working, law-abiding people. I am robbed of more than €10,000 worth of stuff and my taxes are going to pay for these criminals free legal aid. It is not right. These people have no fear of the rule of law. They are being represented in court for free.

The way we live now is completely different. It is not like the lovely countryside that we were all brought up in, where you could leave everything open. Every night before I go to bed I turn off the lights - but I won't go to bed, I will stand there for ages in the dark looking out to make sure there is nobody there.

There is always the fear they will come back. I have a shotgun, we always had one in the house but I bought a new one this year and renewed my licence. I wouldn't be without it. I feel it is the only bit of security I have. I am ready for them if they come again.''


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