Rural crime should not be a misdemeanor

NSW Farmers call for tougher penalties on rural crime

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With reported livestock theft on the rise, NSW Farmers' have called for mandatory gaol sentences for rural theft at its annual conference.

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Richard Daugherty from Uralla whose branch moved a motion about rural crime penalties.

Richard Daugherty from Uralla whose branch moved a motion about rural crime penalties.

With reported livestock theft on the rise, NSW Farmers' have called for mandatory gaol sentences for rural theft at its annual conference.

The motion, put by the Uralla branch, also calls for minimum fines of at least twice the recommended retail value of the stolen property be implemented and imposed.

It comes as new police figures obtained by The Land show there were 9609 sheep stolen between January and June in 118 different events worth $1.105 million.

In addition there were also 698 head of cattle stolen in 51 events worth $586,320.

Richard Daugherty from Uralla Branch said the ramifications of rural theft not only had economic losses but also had impacts of psychological damage.

"We need to get people to report issues," Mr Daugherty told The Land.

"We need tougher penalties as a slap on the wrist doesn't deter, they will just do it again."

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Mr Daugherty had 300 Merino ewes (worth around $50,000) stolen from his property "Balala" Uralla late last year and earlier this year.

"When I reported the theft, my neighbours said their numbers were not right," he said.

"Rural crime police can't do anything if they don't know."

In the motion, the Uralla branch outlines there were inadequate proscribed penalties and weak sentencing by magistrates were no deterrent for rural crime.

"In an age where biosecurity is becoming all important, trespass must be severely punished," the motion background said.

State Rural Crime Coordinator Detective Inspector Cameron Whiteside and Detective Inspector Damian Nott at the NSW Farmers' Conference. Photo by Samantha Townsend.

State Rural Crime Coordinator Detective Inspector Cameron Whiteside and Detective Inspector Damian Nott at the NSW Farmers' Conference. Photo by Samantha Townsend.

"Likewise the attitude of police, magistrates and the law in general must move from regarding rural crime as a misdemeanor.

"The crimes of theft of livestock, fuel and oils, tools, fencing materials....have a major impact on farmers and must be treated seriously by the wider community."

Max Swift, who seconded the motion, said that theft from farms should be clearly dealt with as severely as possible.

"Anyone that deposes this, doesn't think about it," Mr Swift said.

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Rural Crime Coordinator Detective Inspector Cameron Whiteside, who is manning a police stand at the NSW Farmers' conference said, there were more people reporting rural crime than ever before.

"There is no way farms will be 100 per cent crime free, but we urge farmers to target harden their properties," Detective Inspector Whiteside said.

"Farmers need to step outside their farms and look at it the eye of a criminal, in terms of where would you enter the property, when and what would you steal."

When asked about the rise of sheep theft, Detective Inspector said the theft between January and June was "a lot in time of drought'.

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