Routine Activities Theory and Farm Crime

Elaine Margaret Barclay, University of New England
Joseph F. Donnermeyer, The Ohio State University

Agriculture remains the largest segment of the economy in most rural communities of Australia. Unfortunately, the problem of property crime on Australian farms is widespread, and can involve serious financial and personal losses. The isolation of many rural areas, the ease of access to most properties and the portable nature of livestock and equipment, means farms are inviting targets for thieves. This paper presents the findings of a study that investigated the extent and impact of property-related victimisation on farms within a Routine Activities theoretical framework. Crimes such as the theft of stock, chemical, fuel, machinery and equipment, as well as vandalism and arson were investigated. Data for this research comes from a survey mailed to 1,000 randomly selected farmers in rural New South Wales. Telephone interviews were held with farmers who had been victims of crime, police, and agricultural professionals, such as stock and station agents and sale-yard managers. The results highlighted the problems of policing and preventing agricultural crimes due to difficulties in maintaining security on farms and the widespread under-reporting of agricultural crimes. The fit of Routine Activities Theory to farm crime and suggestions for further research and theoretical development are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006