POLICE have launched a new operation targeting stock theft across the Southern Region of NSW with a focus on training and visibility.
Operation Stock Check will see officers of all ranks trained to be able to inspect vehicles carrying livestock and identify potentially stolen loads across Lake Illawarra, Monaro, Murrumbidgee, Murray River, Riverina, South Coast, Wollongong and The Hume Police Districts.
More than $3.1 million worth of stock was reported stolen between 2018-2020 in the Southern Region, including 15 stock thefts in the Riverina between January-July this year, a further 33 over 2019 and 61 during 2018.
Riverina Police District Commander Superintendent Bob Noble said the operation would see a "more intrusive examination of livestock carrying activity around sale yards and places where stock are traded, as well as on the roads".
"While we do have a very well resourced, well trained and experienced Rural Crime Prevention Team, this is a reinforcement that every police officer that works in the Southern Region are equipped to face these types of investigations as well," he said.
Southern Region Rural Crime Corporate Sponsor Detective Inspector Cameron Whiteside said checks on stock carrying vehicles would not present a significant disruption to legitimate bodies.
"Make sure you have your transporter stock statement filled out, all of the relevant papers and identification, and you can get on your way - those who don't will be dealt with," he said.
Detective Inspector Whiteside said theft had a significant impact on rural communities.
"There is the financial impact which is quite high, but at the end of that day, these farms are people's homes, young children live on these farms, and the fact people come in at all hours of the night removing stock, the fear and intimidation factor is long lasting and you can't recover from that," Detective Inspector Whiteside said.
Zone coordinator for the Rural Crime Prevention Team Southern Region Detective Sergeant Damian Nott said research indicated theft statistics were most likely double what is reported.
"We want to push the message that if you think you've been a victim of stock theft, report it as soon as you can," he said.
Detective Sergeant Nott said farmers could help protect their property through 'target hardening'.
"...Everything from simple things like putting a padlock and chain of gates so crooks have to make a decision about whether they're going to cut chains and up the level of criminality in what they're doing, right through to complex surveillance systems being installed," he said.
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