No horsing around on farm crime

Elsie Lange

Macedon Ranges police echo calls for farmers to be more vigilant about security, amid a rise in farm theft across the state.

Recent data from the Crime Statistics Agency showed a 12.6 per cent increase in livestock theft across Victoria in 2021, as well as a 20 per cent increase in diesel theft.

On Tuesday, March 22, Crime Stoppers Victoria, in partnership with Victoria Police, launched the Shut Out Farm Crime campaign, to deter thieves from stealing livestock, machinery and tools.

A spokesperson from the Macedon Ranges crime investigation unit said “weekender” or hobby farms are targeted during the week while visitors stay at the properties.

“People who commit these offences will try and fly under the radar by looking as legitimate as possible, in utes and farmers clothes,” the spokesperson said.

He said the thieves will attempt to act confidently, so neighbours assume they are contractors or farmhands.

“Because of the operation of farms, people exploit their vast sizes and quite often their remoteness to target high value items and focus on things like shipping containers, that provide cover for these offences,” the spokesperson said.

Macedon Ranges police encourage “target hardening” as a deterrence method, which means installing CCTV cameras, stronger locks, lighting and fencing, because farms often lack these extra layers of security.

The spokesperson described an increase in fuel theft, which he said was due to rising petrol prices, and encouraged farmers to properly secure anything they store on their properties as best they can.

He also urged farmers to get to know their neighbours.

“Even if you’re a weekender, people will access these properties with all the confidence in the world and commit these offences, and try to fly under the radar,” he said.

“But if neighbours know, well that’s not the farmhand, or that’s not Greg, that’s a pretty huge deterrent.”