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Farm crime in the spotlight

Posted on 01/12/2023

Crime Stoppers South Australia has partnered with SA Police to help shine a spotlight on thieves planning to target isolated and vulnerable farming properties across the South East region during the upcoming holiday season.

Crime Stoppers SA CEO, Nigel Smart, today launched a campaign that encourages rural property owners and business to think about how they can prevent theft of livestock, tools, machinery and fuel.

“We know as many as four out of five interstate farmers say they’ve experienced some type of farm crime in their lifetime and South Australian farmers are likely to share similar experiences of repeated victimisation,” Mr Smart said.

“Trespassing, illegal shooting and hunting, burglary and theft are the most common crimes faced by those living on regional properties and with plenty of people across the region planning to go away for the holiday season we want to work with police and the community to make it as hard as possible for opportunistic thieves,” he said.

Limestone Coast Officer in Charge, Superintendent Cheryl Brown, said it was important to report incidents of rural crime because it allows police to understand the true extent of farm crime and specific areas targeted by thieves.

“Rural properties become prime targets for criminals over the holidays because they’re more isolated than usual and have fewer people about – and opportunistic criminals will exploit that where they can,” Supt. Brown said.

“We want landowners to understand how they can better protect their properties, and report crimes and suspicious behaviour so we have a more accurate understanding of areas being targeted and what types of property are being stolen,” she said.

“Patterns of offending suggest a high level of planning and organisation by a small group of repeat offenders who are probably responsible for a significant amount of the higher value losses in terms of livestock and farm equipment.”

According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, crime in rural areas is increasing, with rural and regional crime research finding crime rates are greatest in:
• highly accessible areas (close to regional or urban centres) where properties tend to experience theft of farm machinery, vehicles or tools, or burglary; or
• very remote areas, where properties experience the highest levels of livestock theft, illegal hunting and fishing, theft of materials, and illegal dumping of waste.

While the impact of “farm crime” is significant for the broader region and SA’s economy, it also brings devastating financial, psychological and physical impacts on farmers, landowners and rural communities.

“In coming months we plan to hold a series of free information sessions with local police to encourage farmers to adopt crime-prevention measures best suited for a regional setting,” Mr Smart said.

“It’s important for farmers to accurately record livestock identification, remove keys from machinery, keep photos of valuable stock or other commonly stolen items to help with identifying them and install quality locking devices on gates, sheds, and equipment where possible.

Crime Stoppers has produced a downloadable range of check sheets to help farmers and is distributing prominent farmgate signage with details on where and how to report crime through police and other local outlets.

Anyone with information about an unsolved crime or suspicious activity can anonymously share a tip with Crime Stoppers online or freecall 1800 333 000.

For police attendance, call 131 444.
In an emergency, call 000.

More about the campaign and downloadable fact sheets can be found here.


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