Victorian farmers have welcomed the establishment of a new Victorian Police Livestock and Farm Crime Specialist Group by the Ballieu Government.
The re-establishment of a police stock squad in Victoria was a pre-election promise made by the then- Ballieu oppostion last year, and has been lobbied for by the Victorian Farmers Federation.
With recent increased prices for livestock there has been a surge in the number of stock thefts which is a serious issue for Victorian producers, VFF livestock president Chris Nixon said.
"With the establishment of a specialist Group the VFF believes the number of thefts will drop as those responsible are caught and prosecuted," Mr Nixon said.
"The Victorian Government is to be congratulated on delivering on its election promise to set up this specialist Group, as for too long the theft of stock was a crime not taken seriously.
“Theft of sheep has jumped 129% over the past financial year and it is estimated that the cost of reported stock theft is over half a million dollars per annum in Victoria, which can have a devastating effect on individual farm businesses, said Mr Nixon.
Mr Nixon called on all farmers to report all stock theft as many instances in the past have not been reported due to the lack of dedicated stock specialists with in the Victoria police force, so that the police have accurate statistics on the problem and to also benchmark the effectiveness of the Group.
The VFF said looked forward to assisting the Group to determine where investigators will be deployed throughout the State in order to stamp out this insidious crime.