THE western region of Victoria remains a hotbed for stock theft despite the establishment of police livestock officers.
Victoria Police yesterday hosted the second Livestock and Farm Crime Specialist Group state conference in Bendigo.
The two-day conference brings together police, government representatives and agricultural industry stakeholders to discuss livestock and farm-related crime and aims to allow participants to share intelligence, knowledge and ideas with regard to law enforcement in the agricultural industry.
There were 344 livestock thefts in the past financial year in Victoria.
In the western region, there were 181 livestock thefts compared to 250 the previous financial year.
Throughout the state, 6292 sheep, 356 cattle, 92 pigs, 53 poultry, 35 goats, 26 horses and one lama were stolen last financial year.
Head of practice for the Livestock and Farm Crime Specialist Group, Superintendent Craig Gillard said livestock and farm crime was an important issue for police.
“This conference is about putting the focus on reducing livestock and farm theft affecting Victoria’s country regions,” he said.
“Livestock and farm-related crime affects many communities and the collaboration of police from across the state, along with the Victorian Farmers Federation, Department of Primary Industries, stock agents and farmers can only complement the way in which we address this important issue.
“Getting everyone in the same room and sharing ideas is the aim of this conference.”
Victoria Police had identified that the reporting of livestock and farm-related thefts is increasing due to the confidence by farmers to report these matters.
Superintendent Gillard said there had also been an increase in the theft of farm machinery and equipment including tractors and chemicals.
Police have established a network of 45 agricultural liaison officers throughout the state, who are recognised as having high levels of knowledge, skills, interest and expertise to deal with livestock theft and farm-related crime.
Their roles include investigations, providing advice to other police members, establishing and maintaining relationships with stakeholders and maintaining an understanding of the trends, issues and concerns within their areas.