Wool bale theft concerns VFF chief
A WOOL switcheroo involving expensive wool bales being swapped for inferior wool is being investigated by Victoria Police.
Buyers in China discovered that the Australian exported wool was of poorer quality than expected.
Concern has been raised that the incident could damage the reputation of the Australian export industry.
So far multiple brokers have reported thefts, which have been occurring since May.
The thefts are believed to have been carried out by switching the high quality wool out of bales for cheaper wool.
Victorian Farmers Federation president, David Jochinke, said the episode is alarming.
“We’re really keen to find out who the culprits were and how this happened,” Mr Jochinke said.
“In my farming career I’ve heard of people stealing sheep, I’ve heard of people going to shearing sheds and taking wool but I’ve never heard of it, after the testing process, the bales being unloaded and wool being switched around.”
While the theft was a blow for wool brokers, Mr Jochinke said the effect could be worse on the industry as a whole.
“This could do a lot of damage in the long run; those bales could be worth over $2000 each and we’re talking about 18 bales here,” he said.
“The inferior bale could be worth a few hundred dollars so the price difference is quite significant.”
Victoria Police Detective Inspector Jamie Templeton said the incident is being taken very seriously as it will affect a lot of people.
“(This is extremely serious) not only due to the total value of the wool stolen but also the potential damage it poses to the Australian export industry,” Detective Inspector Templeton said.
“These thefts are incredibly damaging to the livelihood and reputations of the brokers who export this product.”
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CURIOUS CAPER: Thieves have been swapping high quality wool for cheaper wool from wool bales, it was recently discovered.