How to Keep People Off Your Property
Do you know how to keep people off your property? Let’s be accurate here. Trespassing is a crime. It’s not legally permitted for anyone to enter someone else’s property without that owner’s permission. It doesn’t matter if the property is a person’s home or rural property that is not monitored or even visited very often.
But every day all across the country, hunters, hikers, and other outdoor-oriented folks unknowingly go onto some else’s property without knowledge and without permission. Most of the time, trespass is an innocent action not done with any harm in mind. But sometimes, people with evil intentions trespass and sometimes do great damage and harm to the property owner and possessions.
So what can a landowner do, what steps should a landowner take to let folks know a particular piece of property is posted, and what can a landowner do if trespassers continue to repeatedly enter private property?
What Does the Law Say?
Here’s part of the problem. There is no one single law or requirement regarding posting of property against trespassers. It varies from state to state.
Basically, it comes down to this. If a person doesn’t own a piece of land or if it is not public property, then that person is trespassing if he or she enters that land.
Most states require landowners to post something which tells everyone that past this line, the property is private and without permission, you should not be here. Each state has its own laws regarding posting of private land. Some states require signage of a specific size and color, and some states require specific distance limits between posted private property signs. Other states have no specific requirements for posting of land.
For example, in Alabama, individuals can post a sign stating private property, but no specific wording or size requirements exist, or the owner can fence the property or otherwise use markers to indicate boundary lines of private property. Other states, like Texas, allow landowners to paint a strip of purple paint on prominent trees to indicate private property. Rural landowners need to know the specific requirements for their state for posting of property. However it is done, posting the property as private is the first step in keeping folks off.
Still sometimes either through ignorance or evil intent, trespass occurs. It is up to the property owner to follow guidelines for posting property and to hunters and other outdoors people to know and follow requirements and regulations concerning private property and trespass.
How to Keep Trespassers Off Your Land
Josh Pfiffer, CEO of Barn Owl Tech, a major property security monitoring company says, “Many times, trespass is done accidentally, but some trespassers are malicious in intent. It’s a problem monitoring land when the owner can’t be there. We [Barn Owl] started with remote sensors mainly for monitoring water sources, and then we went into camera systems. We are working now with the US Air Force to provide base security.”
Barn Owl Tech provides cell camera gear which allows landowners to monitor their land to see who and what is on their property even though the landowner may be many miles away.
“Property owners should make sure the land is clearly marked. Boundaries should be marked, and fences put up,” Pfiffer said.
“Sometimes landowners who are being troubled by trespassers can get help from other people who can keep an eye on the property when the owner is not present. “It helps to know your neighbors. Property owners can help look after each other’s land,” he added.
Also, if trespassing is a chronic problem, it is a very good idea to seek the help of local law enforcement.
Pfiffer advised that It’s a good idea to get to know local law enforcement officers, both sheriff and state game enforcement personnel. These local law enforcement personnel can often provide very good information and on-site security when it comes to trespassers.
Of course, technology also enters the property security picture. Property owners can use both game trail cameras, which usually take motion-detected photos on secure digital (SD) card sometimes with good resolution and clarity, to help identify trespassers for possible legal action. Cell cameras can generate almost instant photos and videos to owners’ cell phones when property owners want to check on the land and who might be on it. These game cameras and other electronic covert surveillance gear such as cell cameras can be very helpful for property owners if trespassing is a recurring problem.
“Trail cameras can be effective for many properties,” Pfiffer noted.. “Images on SD cards are usually better than transmitted images from cell cameras. For typical trail cameras, cars and license plates can be accurately detected at about 100 feet. To recognize faces, 20 feet is good.” Placement of game trail cameras is crucial. The camera needs to be close enough to pick up details about trespassers which can help law enforcement, but the cameras must be located so that they are difficult to reach or damaged by trespassers”.
When selecting the best trail camera for security, flash units on game trail cameras can sometimes be enough to discourage trespassers.
“White flash on cameras can help deter trespassers, but infra-red flash is not visible. And infrared flash is not good for recording license plates for identification,” Pfiffer explained.
Many times landowners want to discourage trespassers from taking game- especially deer- from privately maintained property, and sometimes, this may require more than a single game trail camera.
Pfiffer said that for monitoring deer hunting property, a network of cameras is a good idea.
In certain situations, game trail cameras can be detected by malicious trespassers and the cameras themselves stolen or vandalized if they are within easy reach.
“You might not want to put your most expensive game trail camera right next to the gate. You do want some visible cameras, though. It may help to use ‘dummy’ cameras,”he said.
““In general, ‘high, hidden, and hardened’ is best for expensive security cameras. Put the cameras hidden in bushes and trees. Secure cameras with cable and latch or use metal lock boxes. Also, have the cameras placed so they can look at each other.” A set of cameras which view each other can show malicious trespassers damaging one camera while the other camera goes undetected..”
What Can You Do If Someone Trespasses On Your Property?
What if a landowner has a recurring problem with trespassers coming onto posted land? Confronting a chronic trespasser face to face can be interesting and even dangerous. This can be potentially a very intense situation. It is very possible a trespasser may be armed, especially during hunting seasons, and this can contribute to the intensity of a situation.
“Don’t confront the trespasser aggressively. Try to avoid conflict. Keep it friendly. Inform the person he or she is trespassing. If the problem continues, document the trespass for prosecution evidence. Clear pictures of the trespasser on the property are often enough evidence. Pictures of vehicles can help. Pictures of tire tracks and boot tracks can help. If a GPS location can be included in photos, this is very good,” Pfiffer advised.
Local law enforcement officials should be notified of a trespass problem, and they can handle the case from that point.
At no point should landowners try to handle a chronic trespasser alone. Trained law enforcement personnel are the best people to help deal with a trespassing problem.
Listen to the full interview with Josh Pfiffer, CEO of Barn Owl Tech, below to learn more about using game cameras for security purposes, how to set up a trail camera for security, and more on how to keep people off your property.
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