CATTLE and sheep theft cost NSW farmers $4.2 million in just 10 months last year, including what police have called “significant” thefts in this region.
NSW Police livestock theft statistics for January-October include reports of 2650 cattle and 15,097 sheep, valued at $2.8 million and $1.4 million respectively.
Police said thieves were cashing in on the good times, with prices for livestock reaching record highs throughout the year.
“There is significant value on all types of livestock, which makes it more attractive for thieves and an increased risk for producers,” western region commander, assistant commissioner Geoff McKechnie, said.
The statistics showed that the reports for October alone included 50 head of santa gertrudis-cross cattle stolen in the Hunter Valley, 32 angus cattle removed from a Tamworth area property, and 16 cows and calves taken from Cootamundra.
And Mr McKechnie said there had actually been a slight downward trend in rural crime incidents reported across the state.
On the other hand, there were still hundreds of reports of illegal trespass and hunting.
In the 10 months, there were 279 incidents of rural trespass, including 22 in October alone, mainly around the Darling River near Bourke and the Barwon at Moree.
Police also had 543 reports of illegal hunting, with hotspots in the Deniliquin area.
Mr McKechnie said goat thefts had declined compared to the previous year, when international demand for the meat resulted in prices skyrocketing.
“Out here in western NSW there has been a change in goat husbandry, where farmers are putting in place more fences and are more aware of the numbers they are carrying because of their value,” he said.
He said the thefts involved a mixture of opportunistic crime, with one or two animals taken, and organised crime, where large numbers were removed.
“We don’t recover a huge number, as stock are moved large distances and cross borders,” he said.
“But the numbers are stable because of the increased level of vigilance that comes with the value.
“Us (the police) along with other organisations are doing a lot of work making people aware.”
Other thefts between January and October included 442 goats, 18 horses, 15 poultry (including one incident where birds were taken from a school’s agriculture plot), 12 pigs, nine birds, seven dogs and one alpaca.
In that same period, 40,000 litres of fuel was stolen, with the largest incident involving the theft of 3500 litres of diesel taken from a property near Griffith in the Riverina.