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Pandemic farm crime in Victoria police sights

Police in Victoria are on a mission to stamp out farm crime.

Farm crime cost rural producers $4m AUD in Victoria over the past 24 months.

The Farm Crime Coordination Unit is headed by Inspector Paul Hargreaves, who caught up with Flow last week to discuss the different lengths Victoria Police is taking to stamp out farm crime in the state:

“The Farm Crime Coordination Unit is a state-wide unit and works in conjunction with our farm crime liaison officers which are at various police stations across the state.”
“We’ve been visiting a number of places in the last month...we’ve been to Wangaratta, Wodonga, Yea and Warrnambool.”
“For us it’s about getting out and getting to where the farmers are.”
“Our mission is to be out there where the public can access us...we’ve had around about I’d say 150 of our farm crime site signs given out...these are some of the little things that we give to people or talk to people about.”

Police officers turned out at the Warrnambool saleyards in January to speak with farmers about how they can best detect and prevent farm crime.

“Essentially what it is, is how you can better protect yourself from being a victim of crime, what you can do around your farm, who you can talk to, how you can get your neighbours to look out for you.”
“Those simple little things that just make it that little bit easier for us when we’re investigating and harder for those that want to take things that shouldn’t be taken and go into places where they shouldn’t be.”

Farmers can be reticent to report crimes that take place on farming sites due to a myriad of reasons, including complacency when uncertainty arises over whether a crime has actually been committed.

Inspector Hargreaves believes the solution is simple for farmers – that they immediately report any suspicious activity.

“That does worry us, the underreporting.”
“We know it does it that they don’t have the time to do it or are they worried that maybe they’ll never find it, but the fact is unless we know something, we don’t know where it’s happening.”
“If it’s reported to us it allows us to categorise and build the intelligence from that information and therefore we will then send people to those locations and have more focus on them.”
“Overall across the whole of the state, what it allows us to do is focus our resources where we need to put them.”
“We know at the present time that the livestock theft is an area that’s concerning us and that’s why we’ve been doing a fair bit of work around these saleyards.”

Inspector Hargreaves floated the benefits of investing in security cameras which are becoming more affordable and more relied upon.

“Yes they are getting cheaper and yes they are very handy for us when we’re trying to solve crime.”
“We will canvass the area where a theft occurs or an offence occurs looking for CCTV.”
“If people have it, we will access it...we would encourage people where you can, to have security cameras, it is always a great benefit.”
“Essentially, security cameras on your property would be a benefit to you and certainly a major benefit to us in trying to solve crime.”


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