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Dealing with trespassers and unknowns when living in remote areas

 
pioneer
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I've lived near civilization all my life, and knowing every corner of where you live is easy when it's a single lot in a housing development. As I read more about living remotely, with acreage, and living off the land, I'm wondering about folks' experiences with trespassers and other unexpected intruders.

Having a piece of paper that says you own a piece of land doesn't mean no one will go on it. Sam Fel's thread about his permaculture attempt in Barstow shows that you can lose everything if your land isn't secured, yet there doesn't seem to be much of a way to really secure it unless you're always there. And when you're managing a really large piece of land, you can only be in one place at a time. Meaning that, if you don't patrol every part of the land every day, someone could have free reign of it.

I'm sure that this issue is very situational. Barstow is in between Vegas and LA, so it gets a lot more traffic than other remote desert cities. Someone with a wooded acreage that has lots of cover wouldn't be able to monitor everything like someone with open fields. I've read in a few different places people talking about having fences cut, and trash thrown about and they never see the perpetrators.

So my question to all the Permies people is, have you had to deal with this issue while running your homestead? What's the worst/most unexpected experience you've had? And what have you done to try and prevent it?
 
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Hi,  I once saw a sign that read No Trespassing Trapping Area. Trespassers will be hurt or killed.
 
author & steward
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I think, in general, it's helpful to reach out to the local community before there's a problem. In an established rural community, the newcomer is commonly an object of interest or an oddity, and often seen as "not one of us." Rural folk are a community, they know one another and talk to one another. Moving into a new area offers a one-time opportunity to establish oneself as a good neighbor. I mean, if you're going to live in an area for good portion of your life, it's better to be on good terms with as many people as you can. Go out to meet people, introduce yourself, ask about weather patterns, gardening, livestock, etc. Ask what hunting season's like (a common time for trespassing, if the property in question is viewed as established hunting ground). IF there are bike or ATV trails running through it, that will be more difficult. Express a willingness to be helpful (but only if you intend to follow up on that). If they perceive you as unfriendly, defensive, and suspicious of everyone, you're not helping your cause. You want to be a part of  the community, not an antagonist.

You can also go and introduce yourself to local law enforcement. Ask about the area and the community. Again, you're establishing a baseline relationship for the future. Via the internet you can check on state and local laws regarding trespassing. This is important to know, including fence laws. Research what is regarded as a legal fence (seems obvious, but it's not). If you later suspect trespassing, go in and tell them you think you're having a problem and ask for their advice. They'll be more willing to help if they view you as a nice person and asset to the community. If the community is rural and small enough, it may be dealt with via the grapevine.
 
pollinator
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There is enough abandoned land around here that the locals know where that is. They tend to squat and dump on abandoned land less potential hassle. As far as hunters, most of them have an app that tells them who owns the land that they are on. There is so much BLM land around here, there is really no need to hunt on private land. My land is sloped and wooded, without road access people aren't going to trek in. This is one of the reasons that I choose a location like this as opposed to flat and near the highway.
 
master gardener
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As long as they don’t cause trouble, I ignore trespassers.   My driveway appears to be a favorite parking spot for the area teens. I doubt if they know it is a driveway.
 
pollinator
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We're just far enough from town to get the lazy, inconsiderate people who want to go out drinking on their side by sides for the afternoon. Responsible people put more effort into their recreation and go out farther. They use a trail across our property to access the larger network of trails up the mountain. We have no problems with them, and don't want to be part of the group of people blocking access to the back country.

The other people tear up the trail, go off road and tear up the thin, delicate soil we have here, and chuck empty beer cans around. We also get people dumping at the end of our driveway - yard waste, garbage, appliances, deer carcasses. We've got game cams around, but they're hit and miss.

I caught some druggies a few weeks ago shimmying up the trees and trying to steal some cams on a part of the property I drive by on my way to work in the morning. The guy up the tree almost fell out when I jumped out of my truck in a cloud of dust and yelled at him 🤣

Fence what you can or are willing to. Put up lots of signs. Game cams can be good at access points to the property, but you have to maintain them. Have a cam watching the main cam in case someone steals it. Tour your property regularly so you can recognize when someone's been there. Keep things tidy. I find people are worst when they think no one's ever around or when things look a little haggard to begin with.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Jan,

I experienced a great deal of what you describe when I lived in MN.  One of my neighbors was a Sheriff, and he had to constantly chase people off his property.  They would see his uniform and tell him the owner gave them permission. Of course, he was the owner. They would park travel trailers on his property.   I had bullets fired at my house several times during deer season.  Fortunately, where I live now, people seem to be more considerate.
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Howdy,
I live in the northern edge of the "green triangle". Recently a friend of mine told me of a drone spotted, possibly scoping out their property(80+ acres). When someone pointed it out and they looked up at it, it "took off"/ hightailed it, out of the area. away.
 
Posts: 154
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I live about 5 miles from a little town, on a road that turns into a dirt logging road right down from me. I have had a few issues, but I have handguns, rifles and shotguns for serious things. Our mountain road is one of the roads frequented by fourwheelers and atv guys.. I like it, the people are decent if you treat them well. If you have that abrupt, rude Yankee attitude you will have issues. If you are friendly, generally people are friendly.

I did fence my house year before last for security reasons, and to keep the kids and the dog in the yard. So that helps.

I have pulled several locals out of the ditch/mudhole with my old truck, and I've picked up the trash occasionally.
 
Malek Beitinjan
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randal cranor wrote:Howdy,
I live in the northern edge of the "green triangle". Recently a friend of mine told me of a drone spotted, possibly scoping out their property(80+ acres). When someone pointed it out and they looked up at it, it "took off"/ hightailed it, out of the area. away.



That's interesting - the same thing happens here in the city. I wonder if you could use a drone to patrol your property. You can program specific flight paths into drones - someone who wanted to get a birds eye view of everything with little effort could set that up so that they just have to push a button and they'll get the aerial footage.

It's interesting hearing about everyone's experiences. I guess the overarching theme is that people going through your land is nigh unavoidable, but it's only a problem if the people are problematic!
 
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Malek Ascha wrote:

randal cranor wrote:Howdy,
I live in the northern edge of the "green triangle". Recently a friend of mine told me of a drone spotted, possibly scoping out their property(80+ acres). When someone pointed it out and they looked up at it, it "took off"/ hightailed it, out of the area. away.



That's interesting - the same thing happens here in the city. I wonder if you could use a drone to patrol your property. You can program specific flight paths into drones - someone who wanted to get a birds eye view of everything with little effort could set that up so that they just have to push a button and they'll get the aerial footage.

It's interesting hearing about everyone's experiences. I guess the overarching theme is that people going through your land is nigh unavoidable, but it's only a problem if the people are problematic!



Is cell service available? I would install a security system somewhere high up in a tree. It doesn't have to be expensive, or installed by a professional. Just an old cell phone in a plexiglass box, and a solar system to charge it, would get the job done. Or the phone could just function as a hotspot for a few cameras around the property. Most cellphone companies will slow you down if you exceed your data allotment but the phone still works, so I would go with the cheapest cell phone plan you can find. Cameras don't require a lot of high speed internet. The trackview app has motion detection, here are a few apps you could consider using as examples:

https://www.androidauthority.com/best-home-security-apps-android-842997/

Most states require you to post a notice warning that there are cameras around, if you fail to do this then any evidence gathered by the cameras would be inadmissible in court if you had to prosecute someone for trespassing.
 
master pollinator
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I just read Sam's thread that Malek linked to. So sad that humans are far and away the most destructive critter, and destructive just for the fun of it, not to eat and survive like most of the garden-damaging animals we deal with.
 
gardener
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Malek Ascha wrote:

It's interesting hearing about everyone's experiences. I guess the overarching theme is that people going through your land is nigh unavoidable, but it's only a problem if the people are problematic!

I think the second theme is that the more you reach out to the locals and try to be a "helpful, supportive, friendly" new neighbor, the more you will be seen as an asset to be protected.

My in-laws bought a weekend property in the country in an area with a lot of discrepancy in incomes and they found they could not leave anything of value or it would vanish.

We live full time on our property and there's a public hiking trail along the edge furthest from the house, but it's been rare that people have done intentional damage, and because I'd made sure I knew the farmers on the far side of the trail, the worst instance we found out about quickly. We've even not had much issue with dumped garbage, although another neighbor has. In our case, it's generally appears to be stuff which falls off vehicles, rather than intentionally dumped.

Unfortunately, you can't choose your neighbors. We've been lucky, but I recognize it's just as likely to be unlucky and it can be difficult to know which before buying land. I've always figured that if you're friendly and polite to trespassers who just want to go for a nice walk in the woods, and treat them like respected and welcome neighbors, they will hopefully return that respect and warn you if trouble is about.

That said, there are places for sturdy and prickly hedges!
 
pollinator
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randal cranor wrote:Howdy,
I live in the northern edge of the "green triangle". Recently a friend of mine told me of a drone spotted, possibly scoping out their property(80+ acres). When someone pointed it out and they looked up at it, it "took off"/ hightailed it, out of the area. away.


I'm sure they were looking for tasty organic carrots. Mmm, carrots.
 
Stacy Witscher
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randal - it could just as easily been law enforcement. They keep track of all of that.
 
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This is my experience. I'm in Southern WV, Flat Top if you'd like to know the town, I live very close to a Ski Resort, and lots of other Rec land around. I practice "right to roam" I don't have a single no trespassing sign anywhere. But, I do have other signs. Please Close Gate, Nature Sanctuary, etc. When I see folks I normally chat with them, tell them about the amazing view and and polite instruct them of some of my requests. I added Trash Can in a few spot (Normally where the ski/snowboarded jumped the fence to "hangout") At one point a lot of kids started milling about, so I install a 9 hole disc golf course "free to play". When young adults would try to use the top of the mountain for a red neck breeding grounds, I was drive up there and play 70's porn music, but never interaction with them. I wave a lot, I let people metal detect, and general treat them with kindness. Most of the "bad" people go away, and even a few of the teenager, turned into adults later came back to talk to me to ask why I cool? -- We have no "law" here Southern WV is pretty much free, (we also all do own guns, and WV is extremely gun friendly) What I found is most people are cool, they just want someplace to go to get away from what ever real life issue they are running from.

The handful of "bad" people were dealt with pretty easily (I grew up in the inner city of NE Ohio, a little street smarts make you magic in the country)

a.) We had some kids cutting my cattle fence, the cows got out, we closed the main road (folks trying to help me get the cows back in) story got back to the family that the reason the main drag was closed was because some punk kids were cutting cattle fences and magically the fences never got cut again.

b.) I added more gates on the road up the mountain in completely pointless areas and the drunks stop driving up there.

c.) I got guineas

d.) Posted a letter at the post office about the request I have if you want to free roam my land.

e.) and just invited more people to hike, play, fish and whatnot.

Killem' with Kindness. ( PS for legal advice I tell everyone to play at your own risk, I know not the dangerous of my land)
 
randal cranor
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Stacy Witscher wrote:randal - it could just as easily been law enforcement. They keep track of all of that.


Howdy,
Yes, we talk about that as there already is an issue with "legal grows", water rights, and trespass. State and Federal angencies are understaffed and have talked about using drones to check out grows and complaints. There is a shortage of police, sheriff, or state patrols. Cell phone use can/is spotty, no connection in a lot of areas.
 
pollinator
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We've had two attempted burglaries and one person who was taking seeds from my field. All of them were driven off by great pyrenees. It's frightening, I'm sure, to see a big white dog jump a 6 foot fence and come at ya.


As far as large acreages, it happens. We know people who have had pot grown on their land and they didn't know until DEA agents came and told them. Others regularly find dead bodies. It happens.
 
Stacy Witscher
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randal - I don't know exactly where you live, but that's not my experience at all. We have way too much law enforcement around here. I have seen tons of aerial pictures, either drone or helicopter recording everything, riling up the locals. Very much not appreciated. I like my privacy. I like that code violations are complaint driven and it should be by people personally effected, not random outrage. But, of course, you are entitled to your opinion.
 
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Where I live in remote South Australia (halfway between the East and West coasts) we have few, but memorable intruders. There is a public (dirt) road that runs through the 250,000 acre sheep station from a popular tourist stop to the National Park. The road is used by locals heading out to their more remote properties and tourists (with many more caravans since Covid). The main issues are:
Road damage - in our arid area our roads turn to bull dust until they’re almost impassable. When we (rarely) get rain, any traffic churns the annually graded road to a corrugated, chunky mess, damage that lasts until it’s next graded. Considerate locals phone us or our neighbours to enquire about the condition of the road if they need to travel soon after rain - if we reply that we’ve had rain and the road is still wet, they will usually wait a few hours before driving on it, which can make a huge difference, as it ‘crusts up’ within 3-5 hours (depending on the amount of rain).
Theft - An old stone outbuilding which houses our 2 working kelpies is located less than 10 metres from the road (though it’s behind our fence) and is 500 metres from the main house and other outbuildings.... on Christmas Eve 3 of our 4 week old pups were stolen, leaving the runt behind. We were away at the time, so our consciencous caretaker was awakened by a distressed bitch and spent Christmas Day searching for any sign of the pups or their remains, in case they had been hidden by her, or taken by an eagle/fox.
Soon after we arrived at the property, a carload of rough looking youths showed up after dark (they had evidently been drinking for some time) and started wandering around outside the main house, claiming, when challenged, to be after directions. They may have been genuinely lost....  or not.
Our local policeman transferred to the city 6months ago, leaving us with the closest police station in Port Augusta, 200 kms away.
As we don’t have mobile (cell phone) reception or internet outside the home, we could try satellite cameras, though we’d need a lot of them and I’m not sure where we’d place them.
The drones sound like a good idea, but once again, how many and where/when to use them?
One tip I heard years ago - Don’t build stock yards near or within sight of main roads or remote corners of a property, as it’s an invitation to thieves.
Some people underestimate the danger of remote areas - My partner was driving on a rarely used dirt road at the back of the property, in summer (daily temps 36C - 42C or around 100F) when he found a man slumped under a tree, about 100m from the road. He was nearly unconscious, but when he could speak he said he took a short cut, ran out of fuel and started walking across country, toward a dam he could see in the distance. As it happened, the dam was dry, as most of the dams on the property are by mid summer). If he had not been found, he would have died within hours. All our vehicles have large water containers, basic first aid kits etc in case of breakdown. We have two way radios in vehicles and at the home and workshop.
I love living on this remote station and wouldn’t move, but it does present a few challenges.

 
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I kept finding trash piles on the adjoining property. I figured they'd find my place eventually so I increased my presence and let folks know I was going to be around more it pretty much stopped. I never caught the culprit.
 
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When you live in an urban area your house is as safe when you go to work as the thickest pane of glass.
If someone wants something they will try take it.
Living off grid and remote is no different.
Locked gates and good signage are reasonable deterant  but doesnt stop people.
Cameras are only as good as the power supply, wifi, or recording device and are easily knocked down with a stick.
If you feel insecure on your own land or in your own house you made the wrong choice.
Be aware of the law.
In Canada for example.
A trespasser must leave when asked to or face charges.
A returning trespasser faces charges.
Trespassing at night is a criminal act and indictable.
So tell them politely and firmly that they are to leave. No threats. Inform the police that you had a trespasser and try get proof pic/vid recording if possible.
Do not threaten a trespasser.
Do not assault a trespasser.
Most people including locals are just plain nosey,  and aren't thieves. If you move to the area ands stay recluse, someone will come looking. If you are polite but firm and say that you don't want visitors people will mostly stay away....but then you can't go asking for help when you need it.
Walking around armed is a sure fire way to attract the wrong kind of attention, ever heard of "the gray man". Everyone knows he's there but ignore him as he's not attracting attention.
Hope this helps somewhat.
 
Meridie Fricker
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An update on my previous post…. My partner told me this morning that a large mining company  (who’ve been drilling exploration sites on the property for the last 18months) have confirmed they’ve identified ‘ the largest accessible high grade silver deposits in Australia’ in our back pocket…. As they will probably apply to have (and pay for) the public dirt road to be moved (and possibly sealed) a few hundred metres from its present location, where it runs past our home paddock, that should solve some of our problems with intruders (including dust and our visibility from the road).
Of course this may open a new can of worms….. any ideas or comments?
 
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Suggestion:
"Move to Oregon"
 
Meridie Fricker
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Brrr….. no thanks - too cold!
 
pollinator
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Contact the company and express your concerns and see if they will tell you about any impact on you.
It may be yeras away anyway.
 
pollinator
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Malek Beitinjan wrote:

randal cranor wrote:Howdy,
I live in the northern edge of the "green triangle". Recently a friend of mine told me of a drone spotted, possibly scoping out their property(80+ acres). When someone pointed it out and they looked up at it, it "took off"/ hightailed it, out of the area. away.



That's interesting - the same thing happens here in the city. I wonder if you could use a drone to patrol your property. You can program specific flight paths into drones - someone who wanted to get a birds eye view of everything with little effort could set that up so that they just have to push a button and they'll get the aerial footage.



We had it happen here a few years back. I ran up the fire escape with a hefty stick and launched my own UFO. Came within a foot or two of knocking it down. It came up over a third floor roof (maybe a foot or two over it) and dropped down into the backyard. After my throw, the "pilot" hightailed it out of there-- a very speedy exit to about a block away.

If I lived in the country I suspect they would make great skeet shooting.
 
echo minarosa
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Jay Angler wrote:That said, there are places for sturdy and prickly hedges!



Yep. I've used them in several locations. It's hard to beat a good boundary of Prunus americana (American plum)!
 
randal cranor
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echo minarosa wrote:

Jay Angler wrote:That said, there are places for sturdy and prickly hedges!



Yep. I've used them in several locations. It's hard to beat a good boundary of Prunus americana (American plum)!



Howdy,
Yes, here it's poison oak and blackberries.
 
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I’m located in an area of the US with a fairly large methamphetamine and opioid crisis. What this unfortunately means is frequent trespassing and burglary for rural residents. Less than desirable people know homesteads have a litany of valuable items and livestock. It’s fairly common for sheds and shops to be broken into; with livestock they being more uncommon but not unheard of. People have even had there livestock shot and found half-butchered in the field. Besides that you also have your poachers, ATV riders, and random wanderers. Every homestead and farm is different but there are some universal good practices:

1. If an option, place gates and chains at the entry points of your property. Make sure you can’t lift the gates off the hinges.

2. Keep all sheds and garages locked, preferably with locks that can’t be cut with bolt cutters. Keep tool chests locked at all time in these sheds. In your home, invest in a gun safe for firearms, jewelry, important documents and other valuables. Security cameras are a must have on sheds and barns as well as your garage.

3. Don’t leave ATVs, UTVs, power tools, power washers, welders, chainsaws, farm equipment, etc outside and unattended.

4. Adequately fence your property and check it often. Post no-trespassing signs and see if you are in a purple paint state. Check fences often. Make sure no one has cut or pushed them down. Place gates or chains on trails that can’t be fenced off.

5. Be wary of kayakers and boaters if you have creekside/River property. Have no trespassing signs posted along banks.

6. Don’t be public about new tool or equipment purchases. Especially on social media. Also, don’t post when you won’t be home.

7. Join your local neighborhood watch page on social media. These share insights to local incidents and people to watch. Developing good relationships with nearby neighbors goes a long way as well.

8. Be cognizant of who you give property access to as well as what permissions they have. Letting the neighbor lady mushroom hunt once can easily turn into her son and his buddies fishing out of your stock pond if not monitored.

9. Be firm when confronting trespassers. Word will get around.

You will get some push back from people for wanting to secure your homestead. You might hear someone say, “my grandparents lived in the country and never locked there home!” Or “you should let the neighbor kids take there ATVs through here.” Just remember, making sure your personal property is safe is not crazy. Let the detractors face personal liability when someone crashes there atv on there back forty or when there power tools wind up missing. Being secure does not mean being less neighborly.
 
John C Daley
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Thats a well present case Anthony.
PS what is a

purple paint state

?
 
Michael Dotson
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Purple paint state means you don't have to post no trespassing signs. You can paint the gate and a fence post purple every so many feet. It's different in each state.
Purple was used because no one is color blind to purple.
 
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