120 cows van­ish from Monto

Central Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - Macken­zie Co­la­han Macken­zie.Co­la­

DE­TEC­TIVES from the Ru­ral Crime Squad are in­ves­ti­gat­ing af­ter a gra­zier re­ported 120 head of cat­tle miss­ing from his Monto prop­erty.

De­tec­tive Sergeant Mark Fer­ling from the Kin­garoy Ru­ral Crime Squad said Queens­land Po­lice Ser­vice was re­ceiv­ing a con­sis­tent num­ber of com­plaints of cat­tle-re­lated crime.

“The com­plaints range from bush kills – where cat­tle are il­le­gally slaugh­tered for meat – through to cat­tle steal­ing of any­where be­tween two head up to 150 head,” Det Sgt Fer­ling said.

“Re­cently we’ve taken a com­plaint in the North Bur­nett in re­la­tion to 120 head of cat­tle.

“The pro­ducer has ex­pe­ri­enced losses of 30 to 40 head of cat­tle per year over a num­ber of years.”

De­tec­tives are fo­cus­ing their search on of­fend­ers with the abil­ity and re­sources to com­mit the brazen act.

The Ru­ral Crime Squad is in reg­u­lar con­tact with sale yards, feed lots and meat­works, where they con­duct au­dits to mon­i­tor the move­ment of of cat­tle in ar­eas they have re­ceived com­plaints.

Mulgildie gra­zier Lind­say Penny is yet to ex­pe­ri­ence any of his cat­tle go miss­ing and said he was sur­prised to hear it was go­ing on in the dis­trict.

“For it to hap­pen in such a sub­stan­tial num­ber in this area is sur­pris­ing,” Mr Penny said.

“Around here, you might hear about one or two go­ing miss­ing be­cause peo­ple have smaller places and know their num­bers.”

But Mr Penny has been around cat­tle long enough to know the tricks of the trade, and said he was aware of dodgy prac­tices that some in other ar­eas em­ployed to try and pinch a few of their neigh­bours’ cat­tle.

“I lived out west for 10 years and it was a pretty reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence – it wasn’t un­com­mon for 100 to go miss­ing,” he said.

“Cat­tle are worth so much money at the mo­ment.

“When some peo­ple get them­selves in strife fi­nan­cially they re­sort to crime.

“Steal­ing cat­tle is no dif­fer­ent to steal­ing any­thing else.

“It’s frus­trat­ing when you know it’s go­ing on.”

A cat­tle theft of the mag­ni­tude at Monto would con­sti­tute a se­ri­ous crime.

Po­lice are now tasked with re­vers­ing what they per­ceive as a cul­tural re­luc­tance among gra­ziers to re­port rustling.

De­tec­tives said that fail­ure to re­port would serve only to em­bolden of­fend­ers, who al­ready be­lieved they’re get­ting off scot-free.

“Peo­ple don’t want to be la­belled as some­one who can’t run their place prop­erly,” Det Sgt Fer­ling said.

“Of­fend­ers take ad­van­tage of that at­ti­tude be­cause they bank on it not be­ing re­ported.

“We in­ves­ti­gate dis­creetly and treat ev­ery com­plaint se­ri­ously, so pro­duc­ers should never feel that way.

“It is a ma­jor crime and of­fend­ers can re­ceive a term of im­pris­on­ment of seven years.

“The most im­por­tant source we utilise is the gen­eral public and we rely heav­ily on peo­ple pro­vid­ing us with in­for­ma­tion.”

Po­lice rec­om­mend pro­duc­ers reg­u­larly in­spect fences, use sur­veil­lance cam­eras to mon­i­tor ar­eas of con­cern and re­port any sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity.

CAT­TLE HUNT: Monto of­fi­cer-in-charge Ser­gaent Mick Bazzo has re­ferred com­plaints of stolen cat­tle to the Ru­ral Crime Squad.

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