Stock theft costs farmers $22.5m

Drought a factor in rural crime decrease

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Detective Sergeant Damian Nott, Rural Crime Prevention Team (southern zone coordinator) and Detective Senior Constable Paul Clancy, Rural Crime Investigator, based in Cootamundra taking hair samples for DNA analysis. Photo: NSW Police

Detective Sergeant Damian Nott, Rural Crime Prevention Team (southern zone coordinator) and Detective Senior Constable Paul Clancy, Rural Crime Investigator, based in Cootamundra taking hair samples for DNA analysis. Photo: NSW Police

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Figures released by NSW Police show there has been about 111,000 head of sheep and cattle reported stolen since 2015.

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Every day there is the equivalent of 60 head of livestock stolen across the state, which has cost NSW farmers $22.5 million in the past five years.

Figures released by the Rural Crime Prevention Team (RCPT) within NSW Police show there has been about 111,000 head of sheep and cattle reported stolen since 2015.

State rural crime coordinator, detective chief inspector Cameron Whiteside, said $22.5m was a conservative average financial loss to NSW primary producers and the total did not include the value of stud stock, loss of animal by-product and potential breeding capacity.

He said, however, there was a nine per cent decrease in the number of stock theft incidents reported to police in 2020 when compared to 2019, which was due to increased community confidence in NSW Police as well as drought, bushfires and COVID-19.

"These unprecedent events have had a significant impact on all communities, and the availability of property to steal was reduced," Mr Whiteside said.

"But the majority of NSW is now out of drought, farms are recovering from bushfires and adjustments to the COVID-19 situation is occurring.

"This will increase the opportunities for offenders to target rural properties and we encourage all farmers to ensure they have strong security measures in place'."

According to the NSW Police Rural Crime Prevention Team, there has been 111,000 head of sheep and cattle reported stolen since 2015, costing producers $22.5 million. Graphic: Josh Hall

According to the NSW Police Rural Crime Prevention Team, there has been 111,000 head of sheep and cattle reported stolen since 2015, costing producers $22.5 million. Graphic: Josh Hall

In 2020 there were 1488 cattle stolen to the value of $2.295 compared to 1399 in 2019 worth $1.368m, while for sheep, the respective figures were 12,974 ($2.231m) in 2020 and 16,650 ($2.164m) in 2019.

Interestingly, in 2017, stock theft hit a peak with 2827 cattle and 19,290 sheep stolen.

Mr Whiteside said during that period the market price of sheep and cattle started to climb. From 2015 to 2017, sheep prices climbed 25pc, while in the same period cattle prices climbed 9pc.

"The cattle market dropped slightly during 2018 and 2019, however, saw a substantial increase in 2020," he said.

"During 2018 and 2019 many farmers commenced to destock due to the drought and many farms were impacted by the bushfires, you can't steal something that isn't there.

"This, plus the implementation of the RCPT, have contributed to keeping the number of stock stolen low."

The figures also showed that in 2020 there were1000 goats stolen, 101 poultry, 20 birds, 19 horse, 12 pig, 6 dogs and four alpacas.

Meanwhile, there was also a decrease in all primary rural crime incident categories in 2020, including: break and enter 43pc decrease, stealing 23pc decrease, fuel theft 54pc decrease, firearms theft 43pc decrease, malicious damage 21pc decrease and trespass 23pc decrease.

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