Landowners across the Broken Hill region are taking the bull by the horns and investing in high-tech surveillance equipment to help lower the rural crime rate, with official figures showing some 81% of the state’s farmers have experienced stock and fuel theft, trespassing and illegal hunting.
President of the Pastoralists Association of West Darling (PAWD), Terry Smith, says because of the remote location of properties in the far west of the state, and limited police resources to cover our vast desert district, many local landowners understand they need to take measures to better protect themselves from trespassers with criminal intent, and new technologies are their best bet.
“Pastoralists around here understand that there’s a lot of ground for police to cover to solve rural crimes, so they feel responsible for retaining as much information as possible to help police with their investigations if ever needed,” said Mr Smith.
“Graziers don’t always report crime because they’re aware police are already flat out in town,” he said. “As one bloke said to me, strange tyre tracks on a property can’t take priority over a call about domestic violence.
“Graziers don’t always report crime because they’re aware police are already flat out in town.”
“Police can’t always get out of town, so, many [rural residents] feel they have to take matters into their own hands by installing motion sensitive cameras, night-vision equipment and other security devices in each paddock, with clear signs on each entry point to warn potential trespassers that we’ve already got their details if they’re reading the sign.”
Crime Stoppers NSW and the NSW Police Force’s Rural Crime Prevention Team have announced a state-wide crime campaign calling on the community to ramp up rural crime reporting, but our region’s landholders are taking matters into their own hands by implementing risk mitigation strategies that can support rural police investigations when needed.
High quality, small scale solar powered motion sensitive CCTV and video surveillance equipment with night-vision capabilities are more affordable now than ever before, so an increasing number of local landholders are taking advantage of new and improved security devices that are easily operated via their mobile phones.
While there are two positions to be filled on the Barrier Rural Crime Investigators team, local police work closely with landholders to keep rural crime in check.
Barrier Police Detective Inspector and Crime Manager, Tom Aylett, told the Truth the Rural Crime Prevention Team is often out and about across the region, checking in with rural community organisations and remote property owners, with their most recent operation carried out between August 3 to August 9.
“We’re supported locally by the State Rural Crime Prevention Team with a team of detectives assisting our police department with rural crime investigations,” said Inspector Aylett.
“The Rural Crime Prevention Team run local operations targeting poaching, theft, compliance, and engagement, so these operations are run using Rural Crime Investigators from neighbouring commands and our local investigators.”
Six officers from the Rural Crime Prevention Team were at the recent Ivanhoe Pig Competition, where they had the opportunity to answer questions about a range of rural issues, like updated firearms storage laws, and raise awareness about driver fatigue.
“They then travelled around the region to engage with station owners near Wilcannia, Menindee, Ivanhoe and out to Silverton to chat about recent crime trends, and the importance of reporting every crime, every time,” Inspector Aylett said.
Rural investigators make appointments with landowners to carry out safe storage inspections of firearms, and while there, provide information about crime trends in the region, what pastoralists need to be on the lookout for, and how they can best protect their property, stock, staff, themselves, and their families.
“Property owners often invite the team to stay overnight on their properties, and the investigators welcome any opportunity to engage with remote communities so if a crime does occur on that property, they already know the layout and what surveillance equipment is being used that may help with investigations,” said Inspector Aylett.
CEO of Crime Stoppers NSW, Peter Price, says they can’t build community resilience and infrastructure if police are in the dark about farm crime.
“Being a victim of crime and reporting the crime, matters. If police don’t know about the crime, they can’t do anything. The more information reported, the better equipped the police are to act to prevent or solve a crime,” said Mr Price. “If we all work together, the result will be a better, more prosperous future, and safer and healthier communities.”
Fact sheets with prevention measures for farmers can be found on the NSW Crime Stoppers website at nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/be-safe/.
To report alleged crimes, call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or check out: nsw.crimestoppers.com.au If you believe a crime to be in progress, call Triple Zero (000), otherwise only call this number for emergencies.