© Plantation Security, Inc. 2009




Major Alan Lamarche, President



Burglars, thieves, vandals, poachers and other trespassers don’t think like you and me.  Criminals don’t respect private property, and they believe they have some unalienable right to steal or destroy your property, kill your game, and some are willing to harm anyone that gets in their way. As the economy goes downhill and unemployment worsens, bad people become worse and desperate people become bad people!  

       It is difficult for an honest person to understand the complexities of a criminal’s nature and thought patterns, and this is not intended to explain those complexities.  From a plantation owner/manager’s perspective, the important point to understand is that criminals have certain basic traits in common.

       First, criminals are always looking for the easy prey, the trusting or defenseless victim.  Secondly, they don’t want to get caught committing a crime.   Third, criminals instinctively fear authority figures and, therefore, are usually deterred from areas regularly patrolled by uniformed, armed officers in marked patrol vehicles.  Finally, most criminals can be deterred from plantations that practice certain security measures that provide psychological and physical defenses that make them a formidable "crime hardened" opponent that is not "easy prey"!


       The following suggested security precautions and safety suggestions are based on more than 29 years of professional experience as a Private Security Patrol provider for plantations in South Georgia and North Florida.  The Plantation Security, Inc. (P.S.I.) Officers who contributed to this paper represent more than 250 years of combined professional law enforcement service with State Game and Fish, Sheriffs, and Highway Patrol.  This paper will not provide all the answers.  It is intended to bring a “security awareness” to plantation managers and owners. A "Security Assessment and Evaluation" of your property is a phone call away and is a complimentary service of PSI.


                                  LET'S MAKE YOURS A “CRIME HARDENED" PLANTATION


       "AWARENESS” and "COMMUNICATIONS" are the key words for everyone living or working on a "crime hardened" Plantation. The Owner and Manager must foster an environment where everyone on the Plantation is observant, alert, and attuned to their surroundings and routinely communicate their observations and concerns about anything or anyone that seems "out of place."  Employees living on Plantations must recognize their duty and responsibility to the owners by never allowing unsavory friends or associates to enter the Plantation, even as a personal guest. Criminals who become "familiar and comfortable" with an area tend to return uninvited.

       Owners and managers should not hesitate to insist that caterers, contractors and others who are temporarily on the plantation, do not bring employees with felony records onto their property.

       Owners and Managers should have a policy that prohibits anyone convicted of an illegal drug offense or felony from living in a plantation owned home. 

       Any reputable caterer or contractor should be licensed, bonded and or professionally insured and should be required to provide proof of bonding or insurance.

       Similarly, guest lists for plantation social functions involving unknown guests should be carefully scrutinized in advance by the owner, manager and/or security personnel. Owners and Managers should never hire a prospective employee without having a thorough background and criminal history check done on the applicant.


       The following information is intended to help reduce the likelihood of Plantation Owners, Managers and employees of being victimized or injured.  Ninety-five percent (95%) of all trespass and related criminal activity begins at public access perimeters and entrances, so we will begin there.



      Most plantations have some type of “Posted” or “No trespassing” signs on their perimeters.  We have found that custom made, highly visible signs which carry a strong message provide a greater deterrence to trespassers than “hardware store” signs or signs that simply give the property name and read “Posted.” Of course, from a deterrence standpoint, any Posted sign is better than no signs at all. 

      The general rule on distance for Posted or No Trespassing signs is that people who are traveling public access perimeters should be able to begin seeing the next sign before they lose sight of the previous one and there should be a sign at each property corner.  Old, shot up, and dilapidated signs should be removed and replaced by new signs to maintain their optimum deterrent effect on trespassers.  Aluminum nails should be used to attach signs to any tree that might someday wind up in a saw mill.  The above signs and maintenance service are complimentary to all PSI Clients. 


Gates and Cables



Substantial gates or cables should be maintained on all remote plantation roads that exit onto public roadways.  Recessed gates or cables with wing fences are safer for plantation vehicles, log trucks, tractors, etc., especially when entering the property.  A recessed entrance allows the vehicle to pull completely off the public road so the driver can safely unlock or lock a gate.  Although most commercial gates are aluminum, many custom pipe and welded gates are painted with primer colors or earth tones.  Attaching strips of reflective tape (which glows at night when lights hit them) is a good idea and can provide a liability defense for the owner if someone runs into a gate and is injured.

      When installing commercial aluminum gates, the installer should be certain to have the top hinge pin pointing down and the bottom hinge pin point up.  It is easier to install the gate with both pins pointing up, but the gate can also be more easily removed by criminals, who can then enter the property or even steal the gate for their own use.  Gates should have case hardened chains (welded or locked) that secure the hinge sides of gates to the support posts.

      Cabled entrances can cause a potential liability risk to landowners.  There have been instances of kids on ATV’s, bicycles, horseback, or simply running on foot who have been seriously injured or killed when they hit an unmarked cable that they did not know was there.  If cables are used, they should run through a six to eight foot piece of UV resistant, highly visible (orange, white or red) heavy duty PVC and then striped with reflective tape.  Tying numerous strips of orange and yellow surveyors tape to a cable will make it more visible but no less dangerous if a kid on a four-wheeler runs into it.


Locks and Chains


      Case hardened locks and chains cannot be cut with most bolt cutters and can be a worthwhile investment for areas with a history of Breaking-and-Entering problems.  It is a good idea to re-key locks or change lock combinations on a periodic basis and anytime you have reason to believe keys or combinations have fallen into the wrong hands.

      There are a number of ways to minimize the likelihood of keys or combinations getting out of your control.  Managers should keep a second set of “utility” locks available with plenty of extra keys or, more ideally, use a combination lock.  Any time loggers, contract farmers, tree thinners, sprayers, surveyors, etc. need access to certain areas of the plantation for a period of days or weeks, don’t give them your primary key or the combination that opens every gate on the plantation.  Simply lock your extra “utility” lock through your primary lock (or completely remove the primary lock while they are working in the area) and give them the key or combination to the extra “utility” lock.  After they are finished with their work, just remove the utility lock or change the combination, and if you don’t get your key back, it’s no big deal.

      Gate chains should be secured to the post with a fence staple, bent nail, screw or similar device. On those rare occasions where a gate will be left open for a short period (Remember Rule # 1), either remove the lock or securely lock it through the chain.  Trespassers have been known to take open locks from plantation gates and then return them within one or two hours.  You guessed it, the time was spent taking the lock to a locksmith and getting their own key made. 


Fences, Fire Lanes, and Physical Barriers


       The psychological deterrence of physical barriers plays a major role in keeping trespassers off of Plantations.  Physical barriers tell the potential trespasser that the owner is “security conscious.” 

       If possible, fencing should be maintained on all public access perimeters.  From a psychological standpoint, the least expensive (wire or board) fence is better than no fence.

      Whether perimeter fencing exists or not, maintained perimeter fire lanes a priority for deterring and detecting trespassers.  If you have a choice between fire lanes and fences, take the fire lanes, although having both is ideal.  For maximum deterrence, perimeter fire lanes should be cut in early fall and reconditioned as often as necessary to ensure that they remain soft and clear of growth and debris. 

      Plantation personnel and shooting parties should be instructed to avoid walking on or driving across perimeter fire lanes.

      Perimeter fire lanes should be cut at least one-and-a-half harrow widths wide.  Security Officers or an observant plantation employee should drive the extreme inside edge of perimeter fire lanes on a periodic basis to detect evidence of unlawful entry.  Poachers, quail trappers, and other trespassers also "read sign" (foot tracks, tire tracks, drag marks, and other physical evidence), and they know that they cannot cross a well maintained perimeter fire lane without leaving sign (physical evidence) of their presence.  Remember, they don’t want you to know they are there.  They don’t want to get caught.

      On public access perimeters (state and county roads) where deer, turkey, and other game can readily be seen by road hunters, there are relatively inexpensive methods for deterrence of road hunting (shooting game on our property from public roads).   Many plantations have Scenic Right of Way agreements on major highways as part of their conservation easements.  The following methods for deterring road hunting may be in direct conflict with such easements and should not be used where they exist.  Most serious road hunting, however, occurs on less traveled dirt roads, where poachers are less likely to be detected.  Perhaps you have such an area where one of the following methods might work.

      Immediately inside the perimeter fence (or property line if no fence exists) is the wide maintained fire lane previously recommended.  Immediately inside the fire lane (at least  

one-and-a-half harrow widths wide), you can plant wax myrtle, plum, native cedar or other suitable indigenous vegetation.  A second fire lane should also be maintained inside the row of vegetation.

      A less expensive barrier for the shorter term for areas that have a natural growth of pines and natural shrubbery can be equally effective.  Simply cut the two fire lanes on either side of the vegetation, fertilize the foliage if you like, and avoid burning that area, thus allowing pine seedlings and natural vegetation to thicken into an eventual natural barrier.

      Either of these methods will deter road hunting and will provide the added benefit of 

offering privacy to owners and guests when they are hunting.  There is nothing more disconcerting than car loads of gawkers stopping to stare or take pictures of the hunting party while they are trying to enjoy a hunt on courses that take them near public road perimeters.

      Each fall, plantation employees chop and bush hog trails through fields and woodlands for shooting party access.   Deer, turkey, quail, and other game that generally attract poachers routinely travel the trails and can be easily seen from public roads if previously mentioned barriers don’t exist.  Simply planning the direction of the trails near public roadways can substantially reduce the incidence of road hunting by poachers.  Depending upon the thickness of the cover being chopped or bush-hogged and considering the level of the terrain, run the first three to five chopper trails closest to the public road parallel to the road and cut connecting trails, staggered so as not to make any visible, lengthy trails perpendicular with the road.  This will reduce the visibility of game from poachers hunting from vehicles on the public road.


Big House, Guest Houses, Manager’s Residence, Tac Rooms, etc.


      Wireless modern burglar and fire alarm systems with battery and radio backup capabilities (in the event electric power or phone lines are cut) are generally reliable.   It is recommended that such systems be in all big houses, manager’s residence, offices and tac rooms.  Expensive paintings should be equipped with individual contact alarm systems.  Any system can and will have false alarms but every alarm activation should be treated like the real McCoy and never be treated like “just another false alarm.”

      Established procedures for notification of security personnel, the Sheriff’s Office, Fire Department, plantation manager, etc. should be followed every time an alarm activates, unless it is positively known to be an accidental occurrence.  Unfortunately, in most alarm situations, a plantation manager or other plantation employee will rush to the scene to “check it out” first.  What if it is real?  What if the employee encounters two vans with four armed burglars?  Or what if the house is ablaze, and you have wasted valuable time by driving over to “check it out” before notifying the Fire Department?

      A better suggestion would be for the manager or employee to meet the sheriff’s deputy and/or security officer at a pre-designated location and let the deputy and/or security officer approach the house.  Remember that they have been trained to expect the unexpected and to deal with a potential lethal situation.  Communications must exist between the manager and the deputy sheriff/security officer before any approach is made to a residence where an alarm has been activated.  Imagine the horror of a manager who promptly responded to another “false alarm” at the big house one summer night.  He came out the door (after resetting the alarm) to face the muzzle end of the gun of a new young deputy sheriff (responding to the alarm) who thought he had caught the burglar.

      In the case of a fire alarm, the Fire Department recommends that you do not enter an unoccupied burning building at all.  Keep your distance and enter the burning house only with the fire fighters if so instructed.

      Plantation owners pay substantial local taxes for Law Enforcement and Fire Protection services.  Get your money’s worth and don’t be concerned about bothering them for just another “possible false alarm.”

      There are several other things to remember about alarm systems. 

      a.      They should have periodic maintenance by the installer.  Often, false alarms are caused by squirrels or other                   creatures gnawing on wiring. Wiring may have to be run through PVC piping. 

      b.     If you have alarm systems, be sure you have notified your insurance agent, some companies will reduce your rates.

      c.      Be sure each person with access has their own identifier as part of their access code.

      d.      Always turn the alarm on when the house is unoccupied.

      e.      Request a monthly printout from your alarm company on all access code entries.

      f.       Again, treat all alarms like the real thing.  If they are not real, consider yourself lucky. 

      Miscellaneous reminders:

      Fire extinguishers, first aid kits, flashlights, and emergency telephone numbers should be obvious and visible in all residences, guest houses, garages, barns, and stables.

      Needless to say, all residences, guest houses, and outbuildings should be kept securely locked when unoccupied and locked at night when occupied.    

      When managers and employees are away on vacation, mail and newspaper deliveries should be stopped or picked up by another employee or Security Officer on a daily basis.  The buildup of mail and old newspapers is an announcement to criminals that no one is home. 

      If you have a Security Patrol service, they should be notified when managers are on vacation, so they can make daily security checks.  In some counties, Sheriffs provide vacation security checks.  All residences should have external doors equipped with double cylinder key-locked one inch dead bolt locks and locking windows.

      Ample external lights to illuminate outside parking areas should exist with motion activated outside door lights and motion activated floodlights at each corner of the house.

      If you go out of town for the weekend, make it look like someone is home.  Leave the extra vehicle parked (and locked) in front, and a $5.00 light timer can turn on an interior light and/or television at dusk.

      Firearms (except those maintained for self defense) kept in residences should be stored in a locked, bolted down gun safe.  Firearms should never be left in plain view inside vehicles parked outside at night.  Duplicate copies of the make, model, gauge or caliber, and serial numbers of all firearms should be maintained in two secure locations.  The number one reason many stolen firearms are never recovered by law enforcement is failure of the owner to maintain such records.

      All residences (including rentals) should be equipped with smoke alarms and the batteries replaced and tested annually.


Vehicles, ATV's, Farm Machinery and Equipment


      It seems to be a common practice on plantations to leave vehicles unlocked and the keys in the ignition.  We strongly suggest that this habit of convenience be reconsidered, especially when vehicles are parked at hitching racks or at the start of a hunting course and the shooting party is away for two or three hours.  Typically, the vehicles will contain extra guns, purses, cameras, and other personal items.  Similarly, vehicles parked around the big house, guest houses and residences should be kept locked (especially at night) and the keys removed.          

      Magnetic Hide-A-Keys can be maintained at a uniform location on all vehicles in the event that someone locks their keys inside or otherwise can’t find them.  A master key rack can be kept in the house with another spare set in a drawer for emergencies.

      ATV's have recently become the hottest motorized theft item on Plantations and Farms. Operators must take precautions to remove the keys when not in use and park them out of sight in a locked barn if possible.   

       Tractors, bulldozers, and other farm machinery should never be left in sight of public roadways in remote areas of the plantation at the end of the work day, even if the driver will be working the same field or continuing to harrow the same fire lane the next morning.  The employee should take the extra few minutes to park the equipment deeper in the property (and remove the key) where it won’t be an easy target for vandals or thieves.  The employee can then remove the hydraulic pump (or clinch pins and bolts) and take them with him to prevent possible theft of attachments overnight.  Locking fuel caps are recommended for any machinery that is even occasionally left in the field.  A handful of sand in a fuel system can be a costly mechanical nightmare and result in down time for equipment and personnel.        


Fuel Storage Tanks, Tools, and Miscellaneous Property


      Loss of fuel, especially gasoline, from plantation fuel tanks does occasionally occur.  Often the loss is simply a result of poor locking devices, poor location of the tank, or poor lighting.  Typically, losses occur on weekends or after hours.

      There are some rather sophisticated (but not expensive) high security fuel pumping systems available that are gaining popularity on some local plantations.  One such system, made by “Gas Boy,” is available locally.  The pump has a locked panel that contains up to five rows of ten individual, separately keyed locks with an individual gallon meter for each keyhole.  If you have ten or fewer employees who are authorized to use fuel, you simply get one panel.  Each employee has an assigned individually keyed lock and individual gallon meter.  The manager can easily keep up with the number of gallons each employee draws, and no one else can pump gas without an individually keyed lock and key.  Since the keyholes are built into the panel, they cannot be cut off and keys cannot be duplicated.  The manager can establish a monthly record keeping system with ease. 

      The fuel tank filler spout is probably the weakest link in security of fuel storage, because it is often easy to access for the purpose of siphoning fuel.  Case hardened locks should be used to secure the filler spout, and the fuel area should be lighted at night and, ideally, located within sight of a residence.                                                                                    

      Hand tools, power tools, chain saws, shovels, etc. should have the plantation name prominently etched on a non-removable, essential part of each tool or related property with a dremmel tool.  A record of make, model, and serial numbers of expensive tools should be maintained in duplicate and secured with firearms records.  Most plantations have a standard color scheme (red & white, tan, grey, etc.) used on plantation vehicles, houses and work uniforms.  The handles or grips of hand tools can be spray painted with a plantation color to deter theft and permit recognition of ownership from a distance.

       Video surveillance equipment is readily available if necessary to catch a thief in the act or to deter criminal activity.


Wire Theft


In recent times, the value of certain metals, especially copper and aluminum, have skyrocketed and these metals have become the target of choice for many thieves.  Plantations have a plentiful supply of these metals in the form of wiring in homes, air conditioning and refrigeration units, irrigation pivots, and even catalytic converters on automobiles and equipment. Professional thieves can strip the wiring completely out of an unoccupied home or irrigation pivot in short order, costing the owner many, many thousands of dollars in damage to the home or equipment.

"AWARENESS and "COMMUNICATIONS" are the key words for everyone living or working on a "hardened" Plantation. Being observant, alert, and attuned to notice and immediately report  anything or anyone that seems "out of place" is the key to preventing wire theft. If your gut tells you something is wrong or someone doesn’t belong there, chances are, it is right.


Meth Labs & Marijuana Gardens


Because of pressure by urban Law Enforcement, the manufacturing of methamphetamines, the highly addictive drug of choice for the poor, has moved to rural, remote areas, including plantations. 

Meth labs can be easily concealed and transported in pickup toolboxes, auto trunks, sheds and old buildings. The criminals associated with this activity are very dangerous. They are usually armed and frequently booby trap the area they are using to manufacture the drug. They may pull a mobile lab onto a remote corner of a plantation, set a trip wire explosive up the road, manufacture their illegal product and be gone within several hours.

Plantation employees encountering suspicious vehicles or activity in remote areas need to leave immediately, call Security and the local Sheriff.

Evidence of such labs can be recognized by a trained observer. After the culprits leave, the area may look as though someone was temporarily camped out there. The meth manufacturing process includes such things as propane stoves, propane bottles, Coleman fuel cans, automotive gas additives (such as Heet), battery acid, chemical drain cleaners, plastic and glass containers, cold/allergy medicines, excessive amounts of matches, lithium batteries, and unusual strong odors are possible.

With the increasing unemployment, marijuana cultivation is expected to increase in all rural areas of the Southeast, including the Plantation Community. Plantation Security Officers have located and seized, along with local Sheriffs Offices, hundreds of marijuana plants over the years. The single biggest crop which was located by the PSI aircraft contained 280 mature marijuana plants with a street value in excess of a quarter million dollars.


Speed Kills In More Ways Than One


      Over 40 years ago when I was a young Wildlife Officer, a Plantation Manager friend, some years my senior, told me something I’ve never forgotten and have practiced ever since.  He explained that quail nest from April to October and that he enforced a strict speed limit on the entire plantation year around.  He had learned the hard way many years earlier when he was in a hurry and driving too fast down a grass road.  A hen had ventured a short distance from the nest with her new brood in tow.  He said that he couldn’t stop in time or dodge the covey that instinctively huddled together under the hen’s wings.  He said he could have covered the whole covey with his hat, which coincidentally was about as wide as the left front tire of his truck.

      Do you really need another reason to enforce speed restrictions on plantation roads?  If so, then here’s some more.  You will save on fuel and maintenance costs and reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries from potholes, tree stumps, errant deer, and other automobiles or farm equipment.

      On service entrances or any entrance that is readily accessible, we recommend the posting of (preferably) custom made “speed limit” signs.  Fifteen or twenty miles per hour is plenty fast to drive on any plantation road.  Express delivery drivers are the worst about highballing on plantation roads while making deliveries to the office.  Our Officers do not hesitate to stop them or anyone else (except the owner) who is recklessly speeding on plantation roads.  If a delivery person, guest or whoever were to have a serious driving accident on a plantation road, the posted speed limit signs (and history of enforcing them) can provide the plantation and the owner with a sound liability defense from a “negligence action.”  The ultimate goal of most traditional plantations is to efficiently raise game for the owners and their guests to enjoy and to avoid costly accidents or injuries.


Cell Phones and Radios


      The key to success is good communications, and criminals know it.  Cell phones and radios are technological marvels that take up less room in your pocket than a pouch of tobacco, and they have become standard equipment for poachers and burglars.  The walking thief or poacher can now communicate with his pickup as easily as you can talk to an employee.  To keep up, landowners and managers need to view the business of controlling access as a job that should be handled by professionals, who not only project an image of real authority, but are also equipped to counter the most sophisticated law breaker.  When the presence of a uniformed, armed Officer in a marked patrol vehicle is not quite enough to deter criminal activity, it’s time to call out the bloodhounds, video surveillance, aircraft, and all the other resources of a truly professional licensed security service.



      This section is not about live traps or leg-hold traps, it’s about people traps.  

      We have all heard the stories about putting out spikes or digging ditches or holes and covering them with camouflage or stretching invisible steel leader to stop persistent trespassers entering the property.  The rationale is that trespassers are breaking the law, so they are fair game.  Not!  According to the laws of most states, if you set a trap for a trespasser, you are also breaking a law and well may be liable for injuries or damages suffered by the trespasser.  You are better off to get the authorities or a professional security service to deal with your trespass problem.


Quail Trapping


      When PSI first started protecting the Plantation Community in 1980, it was during the heart of the “Carter Recession.”  High unemployment, sky high interest rates, and desperate people trying to feed their hungry families resulted in unprecedented poaching and a resurgence of quail trapping. PSI Officers apprehended trappers and were able to maintain control for our clients by using basic common sense enforcement practices. 

      With similar economic and societal conditions, all plantation owners, managers and employees should be aware and prepared for a resurgence of quail trapping along rural roads and within walking distance of rural residential “out properties.” Modern trappers are using home made chicken wire, low profile traps or commercial crab and fish traps with modified funnels. The traps are typically placed in hedgerows and under low overhanging bushes where coveys typically go to roost. Rarely will the traps be over 100 yards from a public road unless they are maintained by a brazen poacher who feels comfortable going deep into unprotected property.


Liability Considerations


       In today's litigious society, a Plantation Owner is well advised to make every reasonable effort to keep unwanted, uninvited people, especially juveniles, off of their Plantation.  If such people become injured, even while trespassing, and reasonable precautions (posted signs, fencing, locked gates, security patrols, etc.) are not in place, the Owner can be held liable.  Owners are advised to take such precautions and to employ self insured professional contractors to handle high risk duties. Owners who depend on plantation managers and employees to confront trespassers and criminals are exposing themselves and their employees to potential physical harm and/or financial loss. The old method of using the summer farmer/winter fence rider approach to security is rapidly waning.  Plantation owners who expect untrained employees, whose legal authority may be questioned, to handle hazardous law enforcement and security situations are exposing their “deep pockets” to unscrupulous lawyers if an employee violates a trespasser’s rights or injures a trespasser. Similarly, an employee who gets injured performing a required job that he has not been properly trained to handle might seek redress. There is no wildlife or property on a plantation that is worth the death or serious injury of an owner or employee. 

       If you choose not to contract with a licensed, bonded, insured professional security service to handle such matters when they arise, then call your local Sheriff or Game and Fish Officer.  Do not try to handle potentially dangerous situations yourself and, certainly, don’t ask your employees to do so. Plantation Security Inc. is an independent contractor that carries $5,000,000 Professional Liability Insurance, and we are responsible for the actions of our highly trained, experienced Officers. Upon request, our Clients receive a Certificate of Insurance.


About Plantation Security, Inc.


      Plantation Security, Inc. is a locally owned, licensed, bonded, and insured private security company that was established in 1980 to meet the unique security needs of Plantations in the north Florida-south Georgia area.   Plantation personnel do not have to get involved in hazardous confrontations or miss work for court related matters, because P.S.I. handles the apprehension and prosecution of trespassers.

      P.S.I. employs only experienced (mostly retired) law enforcement officers, who receive regular firearms and legal update training.  If you are not already one of our clients, please check our website www.plantationsecurity.com and speak to those owners and managers whom we have served for many years.  If you like what you hear from them, please give us a call for your complimentary assessment of how our economical security services may be of help to you.



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