An ongoing, proactive operation aimed at preventing livestock theft by disrupting the movement of stolen stock within NSW has been rolled out in the Southern Region.
Wagga Wagga Livestock Marketing Centre was the scene of the launch of Operation Stock Check, a high-visibility strategy which allows officers of all ranks to inspect vehicles carrying livestock to identify and target loads which may be stolen.
The Southern Region launch follows the successful commencement of the same operation in western NSW on 4 August.
The announcement was held on Monday, 31 August, and attended by NSW Police State Rural Crime Coordinator Detective Inspector Cameron Whiteside and his Rural Crime Prevention team, along with Riverina Police District Commander Superintendent Bob Noble, plus NSW Livestock, Bulk and Rural Carriers Association vice-president, livestock, Raymond Sutton, and Local Land Services district veterinarian Scott Ison.
According to Detective Inspector Whiteside, livestock theft has a significant impact on farmers across Lake Illawarra, Monaro, Murrumbidgee, Murray River, Riverina, South Coast, Wollongong and Hume police districts, with a total of 406 incidents recorded within these areas during the past three years.
“These figures include the theft of approximately 20,354 sheep and 864 cattle, representing a reported value of more than $3.1 million for Southern Region,” he said.
Detective Inspector Whiteside said Operation Stock Check is not targeting truck drivers, but criminals.
“All vehicles, large and small, will be stopped and paperwork checked to ensure the animals being moved are not stolen livestock,” he said.
“I want to remind all legitimate carriers, along with farmers who convey their stock in smaller vehicles and trailers, to have their paperwork in order so we can quickly identify those who are doing the wrong thing.”
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said NSW Police takes livestock theft extremely seriously due to the devastating impact it can have on farmers.
“This operation is one of a number of steps the NSW Police Force is taking to ensure we do what we can to protect the livelihoods of our farmers, who have enough to deal with without having to worry about criminals stealing their stock,” he said.
“Police will now be stopping any vehicle carrying livestock in order to confirm the origin of the stock being moved.
“Officers will also be interacting with farmers and engaging with members of their rural communities to ensure they are protecting their stock in every way they can. Prevention is key.”
The Rural Crime Prevention team was created by Commissioner Fuller in late-2017 to strengthen NSW Police’s focus on rural crime.
The team has since grown to 52 specialised officers dedicated to investigating rural crime, located at 26 non-metropolitan locations within NSW.