Dope, theft warning for rural Wairarapa

By Cherie Taylor

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HELP POLICE: Rural crime and suspicious behaviour can be anonymously reported to Crimestoppers. PHOTO/FILE
HELP POLICE: Rural crime and suspicious behaviour can be anonymously reported to Crimestoppers. PHOTO/FILE

Farmers are being warned to remain vigilant with stock thefts on the rise and the cannabis harvesting season soon to start.

Federated Farmers says stock theft costs the rural community about $120 million annually.

Wairarapa Federated Farmers president Jamie Falloon said Wairarapa farmers hadn't been as hard hit with stock theft recently but it happened from time to time.

"A few people have lost stock in the last three months. It's small scale but it does go on ... the odd sheep or calf."

Sadly, there were people who believed they had a right to go on to other people's property and help themselves to stock and property, Mr Falloon said.

His property was burgled twice before Christmas.

"Unfortunately there are people in society who think it's okay to help themselves to other peoples' property ...

"

It cost farmers more than the animal they might have taken - especially if they took or killed a dairy cow or breeding stock.

A dairy cow or prime steer can cost anywhere between $1500 and $2000 upwards and then there was the loss of future stock potential from the animal, he said. "A major event can have a huge impact. There can be an ongoing effect on production."

While Wairarapa farmers were already good at keep an eye on anything unusual going on, Mr Falloon urged them to remain vigilant, reporting suspicious behaviour. "Take note of any unusual vehicle and write down the registration. Most rural farmers keep an eye out. There is a good network among farmers."

With plenty of forestry in the region, he also warns farmers to keep an eye out for people heading across farms or in the area to reach these possible cannabis growing areas.

Federated Farmers rural security spokeswoman, Katie Milne also urged farmers to keep on top of rural crime.

"Rustling is underhanded as a stolen animal may have been specifically bred from a line of genetics making it pretty much irreplaceable. Aside from taking food off any farmers' table, if the animal is part of a farm's capital breeding stock, it becomes a double kick in the guts."

Summer often brought with it criminals to outlying farms, she said. "At this time of the year we are in the perfect rural crime storm. Illicit cannabis growers are at work, the rustlers are hitting farms and we expect equipment and even fuel theft. I have no doubt in some cases the three are interrelated," she said.

"At this time of the year cannabis growers will focus on back country areas by planting among crops which can mask plantations from all but the air. They'll actively use cultivated land because it provides the best environment for a crop that no farmer wants."

But farmers had the tools to fight back through the "Stop Stock Theft" website partnership between Crimestoppers NZ, NZX-Agri and the police, Ms Milne said.

Victims can report stock theft anonymously .

"Farmers should also report all crimes to the police, especially that involving farm equipment and fuel.

"We can help the police by being its local eyes and ears."

Information can be passed on anonymously by calling Crimestoppers(freephone) 0800 555 111.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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