Northern Territory Police are currently conducting an operation to recover a large amount of stolen cattle from a station on the Sturt Plateau.
From the 15 to the 21 June 2021, a nearby station conducted a consensual muster of the station to recover 435 of their stolen cattle.
On the 27 June 2021, detectives from Taskforce Starlight executed a search warrant on the property to recover evidence of cattle sales and to compare the DNA of the weaners on the station with that of the original stolen cattle.
DNA evidence has since confirmed that 658 cattle on the station have parental linkages to the original 435 head. A number of weaners on the station are believed to be up to third generation offspring of the original 435. A number of these wieners have since been sold to other stations.
Investigations have concluded that the number of cattle stolen, including the weaners and on sold cattle, is approximately 1200 with an estimated value of $1.47 million.
On 20 April 2022, detectives attended the station and arrested a 71-year-old male who has since been charged with one count of stealing and two counts of criminal deception.
He was bailed to appear in Katherine Local Court on the 6 June 2022 with further charges expected as a result of the current muster.
Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Lawson said, “Taskforce Starlight is a collaboration between NT Police, Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, Livestock Biosecurity, Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association and Northern Territory Buffalo Industry Council, to combat stock theft and stock related crime in the Territory.
“This operation and subsequent arrest has been the result of extensive investigations from police over the last ten months. A mustering schedule has been devised and is currently being executed to recover the remaining cattle. Police members with livestock experience have been deployed from Katherine, Adelaide River and the Mounted Unit to assist.
“It’s been a long road but Taskforce Starlight will ensure every head of stolen cattle is returned.
“We urge anyone with information in regards to livestock theft to call police on 131 444.”
Source: NT police
Of course stock theft must be taken seriously and stamped out as best as possible.
However I would acknowledge the work, time and expense that the livestock owners still had to do to make this happen. Whilst the operation starlight taskforce will get the accolades, the aggrieved stockowner had to push the taskforce hard and provide much of the information obtained for the charges to be laid, at their own expense including the DNA testing.
My point is that it is great that the NT Government have this taskforce, but there is much to be done in the way of resourcing to make it a better service. Perhaps now they will see the value.