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Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - PA­TRICK BILLINGS ROGER HANSON

Di­vided on strat­egy

FARM­ERS and landown­ers are be­ing urged to be vig­i­lant about theft from farms af­ter al­most 600 sheep were stolen from a South-East prop­erty.

Farmer Mar­cus Weed­ing is call­ing for stricter penal­ties for thefts from farms af­ter his sheep were stolen be­tween Jan­uary and June this year.

The value of the sheep stolen from the Run­nymede farm was around $100,000.

Back in 2015 a Cam­pa­nia farmer lost 705 sheep as well as nine An­gus cows and one Red An­gus cow to thieves.

Tas­ma­nian Farm­ers and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Wayne John­ston said the fre­quency of thefts from farm­ing prop­er­ties “comes and goes”, de­pend­ing on the op­por­tu­ni­ties for steal­ing.

“Live­stock is worth quite a lot of money, along with other items stolen. Farm­ers and land­hold­ers need to be vig­i­lant as to who is roam­ing about at un­usual times,” Mr John­ston said.

Mr Weed­ing said it could be dif­fi­cult to stop stock theft when farm­ers are look­ing af­ter thou­sands of hectares of farm­land.

“Stock theft is a fairly big prob­lem, down South as well as up North,'' he said.

“A lot of farm­ers don’t re­port it. It’s fairly sig­nif­i­cant to your bot­tom line.”

Mr Weed­ing said live­stock theft also had “a dra­matic knock on-ef­fect” be­cause the pro­duc­ers lost not only sheep or cat­tle but but also fu­ture off­spring.

“I reckon there should be stiffer penal­ties for stock theft be­cause it’s peo­ple’s liveli­hood they’re play­ing with,” Mr Weed­ing said.

“If you went and knocked off a bank you’d be sent to prison for that same sort of money.”

Po­lice be­lieve the sheep raids must have been highly or­gan­ised be­cause of the num­bers involved.

“Both steal­ing events would re­quire a sig­nif­i­cant amount of or­gan­i­sa­tion, in­clud­ing mul­ti­ple vis­its to both prop­erty bound­aries with large trans­port ve­hi­cles,” Se­nior Con­sta­ble Shane Til­ley said.

It is thought the sheep were stolen in be­tween be­ing counted, drenched and shorn.

“Po­lice un­der­stand some farm­ers don’t have con­tact with their sheep for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time given the size of some farms,” he said.

“But [we] urge all farm­ers to be more vig­i­lant in terms of ac­count­ing for their sheep given the cur­rent value each has in the open mar­ket.”

In­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to ei­ther theft can be re­ported to Rich­mond po­lice on 131 444 or to Crime Stop­pers by call­ing 1800 333 000 or on­line at crimestop­per­stas.com.au.

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