An operation to prevent livestock theft by disrupting the movement of stolen stock throughout NSW has been relaunched.
Operation Stock Check will be conducted by the Rural Crime Prevention Team as part of what it has called an ongoing and proactive operation that allows officers of all ranks to inspect vehicles carrying livestock to identify and target loads which may have been stolen.
The Rural Crime Prevention Team was created in late 2017 to strengthen the NSW Police Force’s focus on rural crime.
The team has since grown to 63 specialised officers dedicated to investigating rural crime, located at 26 regional locations in NSW.
The operation, according to State Rural Crime Coordinator, Detective Chief Inspector Cameron Whiteside, isn’t about targeting truck drivers.
“It’s about ensuring carriers and farmers are making the appropriate checks including that the animals are fit to load so that when you are pulled over by police it is a simple check and you can go on your way,” he said.
“Livestock carriers can expect to see an increase in vehicle checks in an effort to disrupt the illegal transportation of stock, whether it be large trucks, small trucks, utilities, trailers or horse floats.”
Whiteside urged livestock carriers and farmers to always check their paperwork to ensure it is complete and accurate, ensuring their livestock is traceable.
Initially launched in August 2020, Operation Stock Check will involve officers increasing livestock carrier inspections and rural patrols targeting known transportation routes.
Livestock theft has a significant impact on farmers across the state, with over $8.5 million worth of cattle and sheep reported stolen in the past two years alone.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole said the NSW Government’s biggest increase in police numbers in more than 30 years had delivered an additional ten Rural Crime Investigators to help the Force stay ahead of the game and disrupt criminal activity before it occurs.
“We have more than doubled our Rural Crime Prevention Team over the past five years and now have 63 specialist investigators stationed across all corners of the State,” he said.
“While rural crimes like stock theft may not dominate the headlines, they are a huge kick in the guts to our hardworking farmers and their families with the potential to cripple entire livelihoods. That’s why we’re ensuring police have the right resources to proactively run these operations and protect regional communities.”
Corporate Sponsor for Rural Crime, Western Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Brett Greentree said the NSW Police Force 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 protect the livelihoods of our farmers, who have enough to deal with without having to worry about criminals stealing their stock,” said Greentree.
“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, because prevention is key.”
Member for the Dubbo Electorate and Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said the financial impact of livestock theft can be devastating for farmers.
“Our farming communities can be an easy target for those looking to do the wrong thing,” said Saunders.
“We want to reassure these communities that they are not overlooked and when crime occurs, rural police will be on the case to identify and apprehend those responsible.”
In related news, the NSW Government has announced it is set to develop mRNA synthetic vaccines for both Foot and Mouth (FMD) and Lumpy Skin disease.
The NSW Government’s biosecurity measures will get an injection of $65 million to help position the state as a leader “in the fight against exotic animal diseases.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole called it a game changer for NSW farmers.
“Current FMD vaccines are made using the virus itself, meaning even vaccinated animals have to be destroyed for Australia to regain our FMD-free status following an outbreak,” he said.
“The development of a synthetic mRNA vaccine could be the key for Australia to apply for FMD-free status without having to destroy vaccinated animals, allowing us to preserve our trade status.”