Hunt for rustlers

By Linda Hall

6 comments
TARGETED: SwampRd farmer Lester Colvin is offering a private reward to help catch rustlers, who have cost him nearly $4000 so far this year.
TARGETED: SwampRd farmer Lester Colvin is offering a private reward to help catch rustlers, who have cost him nearly $4000 so far this year.

Lester Colvin has taken a $500 hit from sheep thefts in the past week and has put up a bounty to find the culprits.

The farmer said he's now hell-bent on uncovering the thieves and the people they are passing the stock on to for "backyard" slaughter.

"There is too much stock going. These people are stealing to sell," he said. "I'm prepared to put up a $500 reward for information that leads to these people being caught and convicted, and $500 for any information about where the home slaughters are taking place."

It has not been a good year so far as thieves continued to target his Swamp Rd property. Regular stock checks keep coming up with bad news.

Since the start of the year, he has lost 20 sheep from one paddock and 18 from another. At an estimated $100 a head he was looking at a loss close to $4000.

He had moved stock around but said the roadside accessible paddocks had to be used as they needed to be grazed.

"I've been out here for 19 years and this sort of thing was never an issue until the start of this year."

He also had a trailer stolen recently. Taradale and rural community police Senior Sergeant Peter Gimblett said rustling had become a regular occurrence in the region and said there had been a noticeable surge in the Swamp Rd area. Rural community patrols had stepped up and he had begun canvassing a wide area to get the message across that any suspicious activity, or unfamiliar people or vehicles stopped in the area at any time of the day, needed to be called in "straight away so we can check them out".

Mr Gimblett said the thieves were targeting four or five animals at a time and could be using a car and trailer, a utility or even a large hatchback car. Mr Colvin had gone to neighbouring properties to ask if anyone had seen car lights at night near his property.

Mr Gimblett said it was a tough issue to tackle due to the size of the area and difficulty in trying to pin down when the thieves could strike.

He also said he believed the problem could be more widespread and frequent as some property owners may not be reporting thefts and simply taking it on the chin as part of the risks of farming.

"It could just be the tip of the iceberg."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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