Farmers urged to report thefts

By Liz Mellino

With more than $1.9 million worth of livestock stolen from farms across Victoria over the past year, police are ramping up their efforts to target rural thefts.

Goulburn Valley farmers are being encouraged to speak up and report farm thefts, with a new Victoria Police campaign launched yesterday to focus on farm crimes.

Joining forces with Crime Stoppers Victoria and the Victorian Farmers Federation, Victoria Police launched the ‘Locals Get Vocal’ campaign.

The campaign aims to draw attention to the issues faced by the farming community when thieves target their properties for livestock, equipment, fuel, hay and firearms.

Farm Crime Unit co-ordinator Inspector Karl Curran said rural properties were often targeted by offenders searching for firearms.

“Most rural property owners use firearms as part of their jobs and offenders are well aware of this,” he said.

“While most firearms are safely stored, they are often kept on remote properties and the theft is often not discovered for days or even weeks.”

Insp Curran said there were 3588 crimes reported over the past year where tools, equipment, pumps, trailers and fuel were stolen — equating to about $1.4 million.

There were also 134 firearms, as well as ammunition, stolen during burglaries across the state during this time.

Insp Curran said the creation of the Farm Crime Coordination Unit last September was to help oversee Victoria Police's farm crime liaison officers.

He said the new unit allows for the monitoring and co-ordination of all aspects of farm crime to provide clarity on crime trends, which leads to an increase in the number of cases solved and ultimately reduces crime.

With this in mind, Insp Curran urged farmers to always report thefts to police for investigation.

“Despite the significant impact these thefts have on Victorian farmers, we still have the issue of incidents not being reported,” he said.

“Having a comprehensive log of equipment and tools including make, model and serial numbers assists us trace stolen items and helps us solve crimes.

“All theft is worth reporting — even if you don’t know the date it occurred.”