A south-west detective is hoping to build confidence in the region's farming community.
Detective Acting Sergeant Derek Verity is one of 70 farm crime liaison officers across the state who specialise in assisting with farm-related crimes.
He will join the region's farm crime specialists at the Warrnambool saleyards on Friday to talk to community members about how they can better protect themselves against farm crime, as well as the important role they play in helping police catch offenders.
Specialists will hand out farm security checklists and farm gate signs to help farmers prevent farm crime.
Detective Acting Sergeant Verity said recent incidents, including the theft of $365,000 of sheep stolen from numerous properties, left farmers with little confidence.
"Locals deserve to trust everyone and as soon as you start getting stock theft, farmers tend to lose that trust," he said.
"Farm crime has a ripple effect on the whole community. Say you've got the theft of 400 breeding stock, that doesn't just impact the farmer now, it has a ripple effect over the next three to four years."
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The Warrnambool detective supports the farm crime coordination unit, which was created in October 2019 to provide a coordinated response to farm crime across Victoria, including livestock and equipment theft.
Farm crime liaison officers monitor incidents, crime trends and patterns, develop intelligence and work with local police to proactively and reactively address farm crime.
Detective Acting Sergeant Verity moved to Warrnambool about two years ago after more than 15 years as a detective in Melbourne areas, including Springvale, Dandenong, Cranbourne and Narre Warren, as well as East Gippsland where he covered from the Gippsland Lakes to Omeo and across to Cann River and Mallacoota.
Throughout this time, he investigated multiple farm crimes including stock theft to burglaries.
He said his switch to country policing was a "challenging but very enjoyable change that resulted in multiple networks and trust in the rural communities".
"The more trust that was gained the more information and reporting of crime in the rural areas occurred," he said.
Now in Warrnambool, he continues to investigate incidents of farm crime including burglaries, wool thefts, criminal damage and livestock thefts.
While the detective's experience with farming communities greatly assists with investigations, he said he continues to learn on a daily basis.
The free Farm Crime Roadshow will be held at the Warrnambool Saleyards this Friday from 9am to 1pm.
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