Big crime concerns

Western Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie and NSW Police minister Troy Grant. Photo: Fairfax Media
Western Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie and NSW Police minister Troy Grant. Photo: Fairfax Media

While incidents of stock theft are ‘stable’ in the state, the issue, along with other types of rural crime, such as trespassing and illegal hunting, are still causes for concern for NSW Police.

The latest quarterly update from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) reports in the 2 months to June 2017 there were 484 recorded incidents of stock theft, down from 516 during the same period in 2016.

Western Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie said rural theft, trespassing and illegal hunting were significant issues.

Hotspots of rural trespassing and illegal hunting included the north-west, Maquarie Marshes, Walgett and Moree, he said.

But, he urged all landholders in the Central West and Western NSW to be vigilant.

Asst. Commissioner McKechnie said: “Usually those people are not seeking permission to be on the property. And then some people take the opportunity or steal or damage,” he said.

He said poachers or people who leave gates open often cause other issues such as straying stock.

“It’s just stupidity. Oftentimes it’s not done maliciously ... but they’re not following the rules.”

Asst. Commissioner McKechnie said while stock theft rates were stable, crimes still occurred.

Photo: NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

Photo: NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

“There was one incidence where eight to 10 head of cattle were stolen. We’re working closely with the community and other agencies to identify thieves,” he said.

“We’re certainly seeing people contacting the police, which is proving valuable and we encourage that.”

While the southern Riverina was a hotspot of stock theft, he urged western NSW landholders to be vigilant and keep an eye on things.

Theft of firearms on rural properties was a major concern, he said.

The four firearms stolen were a .223 Stevens; Mugiga Eiber side-by-side 12-gauge shotgun; Winchester model 94 30/30; and Anschutz model 1451 .22 rifle. Four Stihl chainsaws were also taken.

In September four firearms were stolen and a house ransacked and vandalised during a break-in on the outskirts of Wellington. A month prior  firearms, ammunition and a safe were stolen from a property in Parkes.

“We continue to see rural premises targeted and firearms stolen. People need to be aware and take extra precaution,” Assistant Commissioner McKechnie said.

Police Minister and Member for Dubbo Troy Grant said the job of a farmer is hard enough as it is without having to bear the brunt of such wanton acts of destruction.

“While these statistics are encouraging, I hope to see further improvements in future reports,” he said.

“Reporting rural crime is absolutely paramount. Every little bit of information can help our police officers put the puzzle together and hold offenders to account.”

Mr Grant said he was confident the Government’s strong stance against rural crime and stock theft is starting to see results.

“We recently introduced a Bill to strengthen legislation in this space, which I expect will pass through Parliament in the next sitting fortnight,” he said.

“These reforms are designed to give officers the legislative framework they need to solve these crimes and give farmers the confidence to report criminal activity, while deterring would-be criminals from engaging in this hideous behaviour.”

The NSW Police Western Region covers hundreds of towns in the state over 11 Local Area Commands (LACs).

The Orana LAC is part of the Western NSW region, covering over 100 towns, including Armatree, to Collie, Curban, Dubbo, Mendooran, Tooraweenah, Yeoval, Stuart Town, Narromine, Gilgandra and Trangie.

The NSW BOCSAR crime mapping tool from reports during that period there were four incidents of stock theft in Narromine over 12 months to June 2017

In that same period there were three separate incidents of stock theft in Dubbo and Gilgandra and four in Wellington.

The Castlereagh LAC covers 37 towns including Coonamble, Quambone, Walgett, Gulargambone, Burren Junction, Carinda, Collarenebri and Pilliga.

There were three separate incidents of stock theft in Coonamble and Walgett, in 12 months to June 2017.

There are 68 towns within the Canobolas LAC, including Molong, Lucknow, Orange, Eugowra, Moorebel, Cumnock, Cudal, Cowra, Canowindra, Manildra, Cargo and Borenore.

There was one incident of stock theft in Cudal, two in Cargo and Moorebel.

Mudgee LAC covers well over 100 towns including Baradine, Binnaway, to Coolah, Dunedoo, Neilrex, Mudgee, Leadville and Wattle Springs.

There was one incident of stock theft each in Leadville and Baradine.

The New England LAC has seen some horrendous stock theft incidences, with 18 in Inverell, 7 in Moree Plains and four in Glenn Innes.