Senior Constable Lyle Pryor is based at the Akaroa Police Station. In this area, it is predominantly sheep and cattle farming, with Akaroa and Little River being the two main centres.

Constable Pryor has worked in Canterbury's picturesque Banks Peninsula for the past 14 years. His parents worked on a number of dairy farms in the North Island, the last one being a sheep and dairy unit.

As a youngster he spent time on farms during the holidays.

"I did milking for the neighbours and looked after their farms while they were away, so I guess it was only natural that I would gravitate toward rural policing," he said.


Crime such as theft and burglaries in rural areas was a particularly difficult problem for rural police. Factors such as remote locations, easy access and high-value items to steal can make farms desirable targets for thieves, he said.

This was compounded as there is often little or no forensic or other evidence to aid police in their investigations to apprehend offenders.

"Recently on my patch I had a spate of offences committed. Two farmers had approximately 35 wool bales stolen, another has been hit on six separate occasions having ewes and lambs slaughtered for meat on their properties," he said.

While slow progress had been made in finding the culprits, the important thing was that the thefts had been reported.

Constable Pryor recalled recently talking with a sheep farmer from out of town, who hadn't reported some missing sheep as he believed the police wouldn't do anything about it.

He said: "To me, that is like leaving your dog in the kennel and then wondering why it hasn't rounded up the animals that you never told it about! Then you tell everyone what a useless dog it is!"

The police can't solve every crime that gets reported to them; that is a simple fact. However, it is crucial that crime is reported.

"First, it gives us the chance to investigate. We can also bring media attention to the problem, and alert other farmers.


"The reports also provide us with accurate information on what is being stolen, what areas are being hit the hardest and how and why."

Considering how hard it is to solve these crimes, more work and thought needed to be placed into the prevention of these offences being committed, and that's no easy task on a large farm property.

"I have heard comments from farmers -- 'yeah, but they will just cut the chain and get in anyway'," Constable Pryor said.

It was a question then of how easy do you want to make it for them? After all, it's your livelihood walking out the gate.

While it's likely a determined thief will cut the chain, a property can still look secure with signs of security measures in place. A thief may consider the risk factors too high and move on. Farmers should be aware insurance companies can get grumpy too if no effort has been made to secure property.

In today's world, there are certainly plenty of security options out there and there are companies that are specialising in rural property security.

"It's important farmers keep us in the loop and informed. We do not like having offenders roaming our areas any more than you do," Constable Pryor said.

Sharing information is extremely important, not only with the police but your neighbours, stock agents, wool buyers, transport companies and farming groups.

Constable Pryor said some people have the belief that police solve crime. However, he believes the community solves crime and with that help, the police merely put all the bits together.

"There are a lot of bright, intelligent farmers out there and with us putting our heads together, we can make life a lot more difficult for these sods who want to rip off the benefits of your hard labour."