AN alleged theft of fine Merino wool worth about $18,000 has prompted a call for growers to lift security on their properties, especially those in isolated areas.
Six bales of fine Merino wool have been reported missing from a Falkenbergs Rd property at Wannon, west of Hamilton.
Detective Sergeant Mark James of the Hamilton Police crime investigation unit said the report was made last week, but it is likely the 200kg bales went missing in late March.
Detective Sergeant James said police seemed to get an increase in farm theft reports toward the end of June each year when farmers are mustering or handling livestock and realise they are down in numbers. The alleged wool theft has highlighted the need for farmers to report suspected crimes as soon as possible.
“It is hard enough to investigate rural crime as it is with the lack of witnesses and the time that goes by without people waiting for months before they make a report.
“We would rather know early – there might be someone else near there who has made a report as well,” Detective Sergeant James said.
“There are definitely are people going around stealing wool, equipment and stock, so it is definitely an issue.
“Wool is one of those things that people don’t really safeguard as much as I think they should, because it is quite a valuable commodity,” he said.
“As a general observation, you go to shearing sheds and there is hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of wool sitting around.
“I’m not making any comment about this current case, but I’ve been to numerous properties where there has been unsecured wool sitting there and its worth quite a bit of money and it is quite easy to get rid of,” Detective Sergeant James said.
“Wool is also highly-convertible-to-cash commodity which is basically the lifeblood of the farms of fine wool growers.”
Detective Sergeant James said he had identified an area between Dunkeld and Hamilton which is “a bit of hotspot” for sheep thefts.
“Over the last few years there have been consistent reports of small numbers of sheep – 30s to 40s — going from smaller properties that are either have railway lines (easements) or isolated back roads along the boundaries.
“It is obviously an area that someone is targeting.”
He said the people affected by the thefts are confident about their sheep counts and the numbers that have been stolen.
“Anyone who has a railway line along their property or a back road where nobody lives that goes along the back where people can come and go undetected at night should be looking at their security – it’s a vulnerability.”
Detective Sergeant James said unfortunately police don’t get reports of suspicious activity in such areas.
“We want to know about people, spotlighters, anyone who is around who shouldn’t be.
“If someone gets a registration number, anything, because it could be the key to unlocking a bigger issue or identifying a suspect to us.”
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