Farmers fearful of their machinery being stolen may soon be offered guidance on how forceful they can be with intruders.
The justice minister said he was not going to change the law to give all householders in Northern Ireland more latitude to use force, but he told the Assembly that he would consider developing guidelines on exactly what was permitted.
David Ford was responding to an Assembly debate on agricultural crime and a call for perpetrators to be handed heavy sentences.
Under the current legislation, a person may use reasonable force to prevent a crime or to assist in the lawful arrest of offenders. This includes protecting property or acting in self-defence.
Mr Ford insisted that sentencing was a matter for the judiciary.
However, the Alliance minister said that he wanted “to explore if producing guidance on the use of reasonable force, based on the current legislation, would be beneficial to the rural community”.
Mr Ford said he would write to the justice committee to seek its views on the proposal.