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Operation Stock Check re-launches in bid to cut animal theft

Goats, sheep and station equipment have all been the subject of theft in the past three years in the Far West and that’s led to the NSW Police’s Rural Crime Prevention Team launching Operation Stock Check, an ongoing and proactive operation to prevent livestock theft by disrupting the movement of stolen stock throughout NSW.

Goats can be stock and sometimes they wander onto or are grazing in fields near roads in the Far West. Goats can be worth a considerable amount.

At Cobar, last November, an Australian Buck record was made with a lot, called “Marrakesh”, selling for $21,000 per head.

So, stealing stock from properties is big business, whether it be sheep, goats or cattle.

Operation Stock Check was initially launched in August 2020 and allows officers of all ranks to inspect vehicles carrying livestock to identify and target loads that may have been stolen.

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Livestock theft hits farmers across the state hard, with over $8.5m worth of cattle and sheep reported stolen in the past two years alone.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Police, Paul Toole, said the NSW Government’s most significant increase in police numbers in more than 30 years had delivered an additional 10 Rural Crime Investigators to help the force stay ahead of the game and disrupt criminal activity before it occurs.

“We have more than doubled our Rural Crime Prevention Team over the past five years and now have 63 specialist investigators stationed across all corners of the State,” Mr Toole said.

There are two specialist officers in the Far West, though all police officers are allowed to check stock to ensure they are not stolen.

“While rural crimes like stock theft may not dominate the headlines, they are a huge kick in the guts to our hardworking farmers and their families with the potential to cripple entire livelihoods.

That’s why we’re ensuring police have the right resources to run these operations and protect regional communities proactively,” said Minister Toole.

Western Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Brett Greentree APM, said the NSW Police Force took livestock theft seriously due to its devastating impact on farmers.

“This operation is one of several steps the NSW Police Force is taking to protect the livelihoods of our farmers, who have enough to deal with without having to worry about criminals stealing their stock,” Assistant Commissioner Greentree said.

“Officers will also be interacting with farmers and engaging with members of their rural communities to ensure they are protecting their stock in every way they can, because prevention is key.”

The State Rural Crime Coordinator, Detective Chief Inspector Cameron Whiteside, said Operation Stock Check urged livestock carriers and farmers always to check their paperwork to ensure it is complete and accurate, ensuring their livestock is traceable.

“Operation Stock Check isn’t about targeting truck drivers. It’s about ensuring carriers and farmers are making the appropriate checks, including that the animals are fit to load so that when police pull you over, it is a simple check, and you can go on your way,” Det Ch Insp Whiteside said.

“Livestock carriers can expect an increase in vehicle checks to disrupt the illegal transportation of stock, whether it be large trucks, small trucks, utilities, trailers or horse floats.”

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