Police Target Crims Preying On Drought-Affected Farmers
A team of specialised police tasked with protecting the state’s drought-affected areas will be bolstered to target the criminals willing to kick our vulnerable farmers while their down.
The State Government announced exclusively on 10 News First an additional 18 investigators will join the NSW Police Rural Crime Squad, specialising in stock theft, fuel theft, illegal hunting, animal cruelty and trespassing on rural properties.
NSW Police Minister Troy Grant said he hoped the extra officers would renew confidence rural communities have in their local police.
“This is an additional third of that capacity added on top, so where officers work one out in isolated areas, the big change is that you’ll now have two in that one area and their work will be a lot more effective and coordinated,” Minister Grant said.
“When you’re doing it tough because of weather and drought conditions, water issues, to be a victim of crime is a real kick in the guts and can break the spirit of not only the individual but also the broader community.”
It comes as new figures show almost 18,000 sheep were reported stolen last year, along with more than 1400 head of cattle, which culminated in a loss of more than $3 million.
Police say several farmers have even reported having cattle slaughtered on the property and their carcasses stolen.
Security vision obtained by 10 News First shows a group of men backing a truck up to the Mudgee sale yards before stealing eight valuable cows.
Farmer Tony McManus has experienced this first-hand, having had 90 head of cattle stolen from his property near Mudgee, worth about $90,000.
“It’s pretty low,” Mr McManus said.
“I think they just think farmers have everything and it’s easy for them and they have plenty of money and won’t miss it, but that’s not the reality of it.
“The problem with rural crime and cattle theft is that it’s very hard to find out what’s happened, where they are, who’s taken them, if they haven’t died or gone to a neighbour’s property inadvertently.”
Despite the challenges, that thief was arrested by the local Rural Crime investigators and almost all of the cattle were returned to Tony's farm.
One of those investigators was Adam MacDougall, who said they the extra staff would allow them to continue protecting farmers when they need it most.
“Like the weather, it’s just something that’s out of their control at times, they can do everything right and have a good viable operation and then to be victims of crime, it’s just devastating.”