Police, VFF and Sheep Producers Australia unite on stock theft

Sheep Central, April 14, 2023

Locking gates is one strategy to slow down stock thieves. Image – VFF.

VICTORIA Police has joined forces with Sheep Producers Australia and the Victorian Farmers Federation to alert flock owners and communities of a recent increase in stock theft north-west of Melbourne.

A LinkedIn post has urged people around the Shire of Hepburn towns of Daylesford, Creswick and Clunes to be aware of an increase in stock theft since the start of the year.

“The VFF website has more details on what they want to see to help stop farm theft – If you see something please say something by calling 000. As a sheep producer you can install cameras lock your gates and monitor paddocks that are remote. #police #help #sheepproducers #report #regionalcommunities #advocay #livestock,” the social media post says.

Victoria Police is urging farmers around the Daylesford, Creswick and Clunes areas to be aware after a spike in livestock theft, especially sheep, since January.

The officer in charge at the Clunes Police Station, leading senior constable Simon Barker said he wanted to increase awareness of the stock theft risk in the region and across Victoria generally.

“I thought if I can get that awareness, then producers can maybe sharpen up a little bit.”

He said recent stock thefts in the Hepburn/Glengower area, included 340 Merino ewes valued at about $20,000, 140 in-lamb first cross ewes worth about $10,000-$12,000, about 85 one year-old first cross ewes valued at $6000-$7000 and 300 composite ewes valued at $70,000.

He said the area has been fairly well targeted by thieves, with four of the affected farms within 3-4 kilometres of each other.

Leading Snr Const. Barker said farm security is important, assisted by CCTV footage if possible, lighting, locking sheds and paddock gates, recording the license plate and description of strange vehicles and calling 000 to report any suspicious behaviour.

Sheep Producers Australia chief executive officer Bonnie Skinner said the latest thefts reported in the media are of a large and sophisticated nature.

“Properties are chosen on the size and discreet access, so they do not get caught.

“There are things producers can put on farm to notify them like cameras and alarmed fencing and gates, this is all a cost which needs to be weighed up with theft related activities in your area/region,” she said.

“Recent weather events have severally impacted producers so investment on farm needs to be carefully considered.”

She said another aspect of sheep theft is the increased risk that livestock will have fraudulent health status papers as the enter the market and processing chain, posing an unacceptable risk to Australia’s domestic and international trade.

The VFF advised farmers to access its website for further information on how to tackle farm crime.


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