Thefts worry farms

Thieves tar­get­ing har­vesters have pro­duc­ers con­cerned

Gatton Star - - INTO RURAL - Do­minic El­some do­minic.el­some@gat­ton­star.com.au

BRAZEN day­light thefts of per­sonal items are in­creas­ingly tar­get­ing farm work­ers.

These could have greater af­fects than just the per­sonal cost, with pro­duc­ers wor­ried they could put work­ers off com­ing to the re­gion.

Items have re­port­edly been stolen and cars bro­ken into as thieves tar­get work­ers har­vest­ing crops on farm across the Lock­yer Val­ley.

Bar­den Pro­duce farm man­ager Trevor Pezet was shocked by what he de­scribed as a “brazen and op­por­tunis­tic” in­ci­dent ear­lier this week.

Sev­eral farm work­ers were har­vest­ing pump­kins on the com­pany’s prop­erty near Gat­ton when a blue Holden Com­modore pulled of the road close to where the work­ers’ cars and be­long­ings were.

“They’ve just jumped out and grabbed three bags that were just on the ground, jumped in the car and drove off,” Mr Pezet said.

Mr Pezet said the thefts were a new oc­cur­rence he had not ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore.

He said other farms had re­ported sim­i­lar in­ci­dents in re­cent weeks, with work­ers’ be­long­ings and cars also be­ing tar­geted.

Mr Pezet has now changed poli­cies on the farm to im­prove se­cu­rity and safety of em­ploy­ees and has warned work­ers to be on the look­out for sus­pi­cious in­di­vid­u­als.

In ad­di­tion to the ob­vi­ous costs and im­pact of the crime, he wor­ries the im­pact these in­ci­dents could have on the re­gion’s rep­u­ta­tion as a des­ti­na­tion for farm work­ers, which has al­ready faced trou­bles.

“There’s al­ready dodgy con­trac­tors or peo­ple do­ing work and not be­ing paid,” he said.

If crimes like this week’s in­ci­dent con­tinue, Mr Pezet said it won’t just be pro­duc­ers who suf­fer from re­duced work­ers.

“It will af­fect busi­nesses with them shop­ping lo­cally, it will af­fect their ac­com­mo­da­tion if their un­able to pay their rent –there’s a flow-on ef­fect,” he said.

PHOTO: DO­MINIC EL­SOME

WOR­RIED: Bar­den Pro­duce farm man­ager Trevor Pezet said the theft at the farm this week could put work­ers off com­ing to the re­gion –af­fect­ing more than just pro­duc­ers.

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