Higher cattle prices can mean increased risk of cattle theft, particularly on properties where owners are often absent.
With cattle prices now far higher than 12 months ago, police are encouraging cattle producers not to delay reporting any signs they see of suspicious activity.
The biggest barrier to solving stock theft, according to the Qld Police Stock and Rural Crime Investigation Squad, is the time that elapses between when stock are stolen and when the theft is reported to police.
On many occasions this can be months if not years after the theft has occurred.
“If a producer has reason to suspect the theft of stock after reviewing their records or conducting a muster they need to at least report that suspicion immediately, and not wait until after a subsequent muster to confirm their suspicion,” a SARCIS spokesperson told Beef Central this week.
“Producers need to be vigilant in maintaining their stock records, National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) movements and property inspections to identify any suspicious activity on their properties such as stock tracks through gates or cut fences.
“Producers need to be constantly engaging with neighbours to recover and return stray stock.”
Despite the rise in cattle prices in recent times, complaints of cattle theft in Queensland, both in terms of rate of complaints per 100,000 persons and the total number of complaints reported, have remained relatively constant over the past three financial years, according to SARCIS.
Strategies to reduce stock theft
SARCIS says it has been pursuing a number of strategies to reduce the incidence of cattle theft and enhance access to QPS information and services by producers.
In addition to media strategies designed to increase awareness around rural crime prevention, QPS has established the SARCIS blog and it has also launched the ‘Stock and Rural Crime’ smartphone app to enhance reporting of offences.
SARCIS has also launched “Project Gatekeeper” to encourage producers and rural residents to work with each other and the police (and more specifically SARCIS) to report all rural and stock crime, suspicious activity, trespassers and to watch out for and communicate with their neighbours.
The squad is also urging producers to install farm cameras on access points to their properties and to monitor their infrastructure and equipment, where feasible.
Images can be sent direct from a smartphone to the Stock and Rural Crime app so if a producer comes across a trespasser or suspicious vehicle they can simply take a photograph and submit it using the app.
It will be sent straight to the SARCIS Intelligence Officer for follow up with the local squad. SARCIS says its officers are happy to meet with any producers or industry groups to provide advice on how to effectively leverage the technology.
There are also ongoing community engagement activities aligned with the Project Gatekeeper strategy to ‘Shut the gate on rural crime’.