Police: farm thefts seriously under-reported

LIVESTOCK and farm thefts are more common than reports indicate, police said after a recent Hamilton court case. 

Bradley Charles Mitchem, 47, of Llama Lane, Strathdownie, was convicted and fined $1000 on January 30 in the Hamilton Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to the theft of two Hereford calves, valued at $300, from a neighbour between May 25 and August 1 last year.

The calves, together with 13 sheep and six lambs, which Mitchem said had wandered on to his property, were seized during a police search.

The case has been used to highlight the  lack of reporting by farmers of animal and machinery theft across south-west Victoria.

Heywood police sergeant Jason von Tunk, who is also the Heywood district’s police agricultural liaison officer, said the theft of stock and farm machinery was grossly under-reported.

“We are trying to encourage the reporting of such thefts so farmers don’t get complacent about their security and the reporting of offences,” Sergeant von Tunk said.

“Farmers don’t count their sheep every day so a lot of the time these thefts go unreported, or when they are reported there is a long time frame over which the stock could have been stolen.

“Ten sheep is $1000 and it’s easy money for thieves, which we are trying to stamp out.”

Sergeant von Tunk said he had received another report of apparent sheep theft on Monday this week.

“I’ve just taken a report about 200 sheep going missing from Drumborg. 

“They were  last previously counted on May 5 last year and the farmer has only now realised he’s missing 200 sheep. That stock are valued of $20,000. It’s clearly a substantial theft.”

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