Farmers are being urged to ensure their young livestock are marked and tagged with lambs now the prime target of thieves.
Warrnambool-based livestock special investigator Detective Senior Constable Wayne Ryan said lambs were now generally at an age which would attract the attention of offenders.
"It's the prime lamb theft season," he said.
"Victoria Police are now more than ever focusing on rural crime and again requesting that people in rural communities be vigilant for that one thing that might seem not quite right," he said.
"The force has members dedicated to conducting thorough investigations into all rural crime and something that may seem insignificant to a passer-by in a rural or remote area, may be the missing piece of information that ties the investigation together."
Detective Senior Constable Ryan said there had been seen some great changes in behaviour by farming communities in the past couple of years.
"More gates are now getting locked, CCTV cameras being installed, keys being removed from vehicles, guns and ammunition are being properly secured and farmers and those in rural communities are generally keeping an eye out for each other," he said.
"It is this type of behaviour that will assist in making things tougher for offenders looking to steal property whether it be stock, machinery or other property."
Victoria Police Inspector Karl Curran, of the farm crime coordination unit, previously said that while crime had dropped during the current COVID-19 outbreak that livestock and equipment thefts were still being committed.
"We are calling out to members of the public and farming community to provide information to their local police station or anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000," he said.
"That description of a vehicle, a registration plate number or a suspicious person could be the final piece of a puzzle that we need to solve farm crime."
"What we ask is that people consider the impact that crime has on individual farmers.
"We understand that people may have information, but for various reasons may be not inclined to make a report to police. But, if incidents go unreported, if vital information is not passed on, then it's highly likely there will be further victims of these crimes.
"We want to stop crime on farms by making arrests and prosecuting offenders."
Inspector Curran said lamb season was a prime time for livestock thefts.
"We know that at this time sheep thefts increase. We are asking people in rural communities and farmers to be extra vigilant," he said.
"We want people to report in real time, when incidents occur."
The inspector said police also encouraged the early tagging of sheep, cattle and goats, while some farmers waited until livestock was being sold.
"We are always looking at traceability. We understand it may be more onerous to tag or mark earlier but that's one way to help ensure traceability of livestock," he said.
Victoria Police western region farm crime coordination unit farm crime advisor Tori Heaney said there were a range of initiatives farmers could undertake to protect their home and property.
Those initiatives include:
- Consider security of building products and tools when erecting new building, sheds and stockyards,
- Wherever possible, construct storage facilities within sight of the main residence,
- Install sensor lights around buildings,
- Inform trusted neighbours when you are away from your property for any length of time,
- Display crime prevention signage, and
- If possible, install overt CCTV.
For farm machinery, firearms and equipment:
- Ensure all firearms are securely stored in approved holding devices with ammunition, bolts and magazines kept separately,
- Secure tools to prevent thieves being able to use them to force open other storage areas,
- Make a detailed inventory of your machinery and equipment - include make, serial numbers and identifying features with photographs,
- Engrave or mark your equipment,
- Never leave keys to vehicles or machinery in the ignition or close by,
- Ensure chemicals and fertilisers are stored in their original containers and safely secured,
- Keep invoices and receipts,
- Ensure equipment, tools and locked firearm receptacles are stored away from easy access and view from outside through doors and windows,
- Do not discuss items owned, or secured locations with anyone, and
- Check firearms and tools regularly, to make sure nothing is missing or has been tampered with, and
If you see any suspicious activity, report it immediately to police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au