At many dealerships across the country, having adequate security systems installed boils down to one thing — the need to keep tank contents safe from theft. According to Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, remote retail outlets are often very attractive targets for vandals in part because of the kinds of materials the facilities typically keep on site.
“It’s well known that criminals that break into an ag retail outlet are looking for something valuable to steal,” says Payne. “In most cases, this something is kept in some kind of storage tank on the facility grounds.”
Here we focus our attention on how retailers should safeguard their tank-stored materials.
1. Locks On NH3 Tanks Are Required
Obviously, say most retailers, the most attractive tank-held product target for thieves is anhydrous ammonia (NH3), primarily because it serves as one of the main ingredients used to manufacture methamphetamine. According to Bill Garver, Jr., plant manager for Brandt Consolidated, Inc., Ashland, IL, all NH3 storage tanks at the company’s facilities feature heavy-duty locks and valve covers.
“To make certain these tanks stay locked when not in use, we distribute the master keys to only a handful of our most trusted employees,” says Garver.
In addition, he adds, Brandt conducts regular physical inspections of all of these locks to make certain that none of them have been broken into or tampered with. “We do this on a regular basis, but at least once per month,” says Garver.
2. Large Liquid Storage Tanks Should Be Fenced
Besides NH3 tanks, many retailers have bulk storage tanks on-site that hold products such as liquid fertilizer. Although these are not as common targets for criminals, they nonetheless should be protected from unwanted access, says Mike Mleziva, general manager for AgVentures LLC, Shawano, WI.
“At our facility, the liquid storage tanks are kept behind a 6-foot high chain link fence that has a locked entry gate equipped with a heavy-duty keyed lock,” says Mleziva. “For added protection, we have a few extra feet on top of the fence covered with barbed wire.”
In addition, AgVentures uses a security camera to monitor this part of its facility.
3. Consider Installing Locks On Tank Supply Lines
Although most retailers will put locks on or install fences around outside storage tanks, the supply lines that connect these tanks to the loading docks can be left unprotected. According to Allen Rusk, marketing manager for Wabash Valley Service Co., Olney, IL, some of his company outlets have placed heavy-duty locks on their supply hoses. “These can’t be used unless someone with our master keys opens them for our customers,” says Rusk. “This adds a level of security so that not just anyone can start unloading product from our hoses.”
4. Remember To Safeguard LP Tanks
Not to be overlooked, many retailers use liquid propane (LP) tanks to power their forklifts. Although not as high-profile as NH3 or large liquid storage tanks, these could still be stolen or vandalized by outlet intruders. For this reason, retailers that have such tanks on-site should take steps to protect them.
“All spare forklift LP bottles are stored outside in a metal cage that is secured and locked to prevent theft,” says Mark Klott, manager for UAP Distribution Inc., Bowling Green, MO. “The cage also displays a fire diamond sign.”