While stock theft is ‘stable’ in NSW, the rate of incidents across some central west towns is more than double the state average, according to the latest NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research quarterly report.
The BOCSAR report reveals there was 422 recorded incidents of stock theft in NSW over the last 12 months to December 2018, at a rate of 5.5 per 100,000 population.
State Rural Crime Coordinator Detective Inspector Cameron Whiteside said the number of reported stock theft events during 2018 decreased by two per cent compared to 2017.
“During previous years there had been many peaks and troughs with the number of stock theft events reported to Police,” he said.
“However, during 2018 this was not the case. The reporting of stock theft was predominately consistent with an average 31 events each month.
“This decrease would be a combination of less livestock on properties due to the drought and our targeted approach to target rural crime offenders.”
Detective Inspector Whiteside said the drought has played a part in the decrease in reported stock theft incidents across NSW in 2018.
“During 2018 farmers have destocked their properties, forced to monitor their livestock closely and have been generally more aware of the movement of their animals,” he said.
“Times have been extremely hard for our farmers during this drought, so the value of their stock, which is imperative to ensure their farm remains a working farm, is much higher than the market price.”
From January to December 2018, there were four incidents of stock theft at Coonamble, with a rate of 98.0 per 100,000 population.
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In Orange there was a rise in stock theft during the 12 months to December 2018, at a rate of 7.2.
Gilgandra had three incidents of stock theft in the year to December 2018 at a rate of 69.6, while the town of Parkes had nine incidents at a rate of 60.2.
Cobar had five counts of stock theft incidents in the 12 months to December 2018, at a rate of 105.0.
There were seven incidents of stock theft at Dubbo during 2018, at a rate of 13.6, while Forbes recorded two counts at a rate of 20.4.
Detective Inspector Whiteside said there was a decline in sheep (7 per cent) and cattle theft (16 per cent) during 2018 compared to the previous year.
He said most central west NSW farms are large, isolated and suffering badly from the drought.
“These farmers are monitoring their stock closely and where previously one head missing/stolen may not have been noticed, it definitely is during this hardship and the farmer is reporting this to police,” Detective Inspector Whiteside said.
Stock theft occurs because market price, isolation/distance and opportunity, Detective Inspector Whiteside said.
“The animals are worth a lot of money, are farmed at location that are often isolated which provides the thieves the opportunity to enter the property and remove the stock without detection,” he said.
“The Rural Crime Prevention Team consists of a group of officers who are specialised Investigators.
“They generally have a rural background, have been trained to target rural crime and have a passion second to none to track down rural crime offenders and put them before the court.
Detective Inspector Whiteside said this team is unique in their skills and knowledge and as recently announced, will increase by 18 officers over the next three years.
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He said if we all work together we can reduce the opportunity for thieves to steal livestock.
“Improving identification methods of livestock, monitoring stock on a regular basis, ensuring property boundaries are well maintained, using CCTV, etcetera are some of the ‘target hardening’ strategies farmers can employ,” Detective Inspector Whiteside said.
Other strategies also include being aware of new technology and taking advantage of its availability, such as GPS ear tags, computerised boundary monitoring, drones, etcetera , Detective Inspector Whiteside said.
He also encouraged people to utilise the tools available on the NSW Police Force internet website.