Farmers need to talk to their MPs about supporting tougher penalties for livestock theft, an industry spokesman says.

Federated Farmers meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson recently spoke to the Primary Production Select Committee about the Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill and he is urging farmers to keep the conversation going.

He has called for legislation to be altered, to allow the seizure of vehicles and equipment used during stock rustling on private property — the same punishment that is handed down when the offence is committed on Crown land.

Mr Anderson said he was pleased with the "reception" received from the select committee, which was still deliberating.

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He believed the outcome would "not be far off".

"We are hoping the report will recommend that stiffer penalties [are imposed]," he said.

"We're pleased that other submitters are in tune with this thinking.

"If stock thieves know they could forfeit vehicles, trailers, firearms, trained working dogs, two-way radios, night vision and thermal viewing imagers, freezers etc, it gives them considerable pause if they're thinking of raiding a farm," Mr Anderson said.

"Moreover, if convicted rustlers lose such equipment, they can't go back to such thieving any time soon, and that forfeited gear can be sold, meaning there is some money to reimburse the victims of the theft."

Mr Anderson understands first-hand what those harsher penalties would mean to victims.

He was last targeted by rustlers about five years ago when 35 prime lambs were taken over a couple of nights.

They had been weighed and were due to go to the meat works.

"My neighbour, round about the same time, had 30 or 40 replacement ewes stolen overnight. They must have come and done the area."

Neither the stock nor the culprits were found.

"Most farmers I know have had stock taken at some stage during their farming years," he said.

In more recent times there had been some high-profile cases, including the alleged theft of 500 cows from an Ashburton farm.

Mr Anderson said in another case, Daniel Wheeler, a sheep breeder from Christchurch, had stock stolen, just before lambing last year.

There was another case in Whanganui, he said.

"It happens regularly around the country."

Mr Anderson said there were two main types of rustling.

There were "people who are doing it for butchering the animals and selling the product, or sharing them amongst themselves".

"Then there's operations where there's bigger numbers going and they have to be pretty well organised to do that."

Farmers were now turning to hunting technology to protect stock from thieves, the Central Rural Life reported earlier this year.

Hunting and Fishing New Zealand Timaru owner Alister Jones said in February a "huge" percentage of his sales were now going to farmers who wanted to protect their land and property. Previously, sales of motion sensor cameras, also known as game cameras, were predominantly made to hunters who wanted to monitor and catch animals such as deer. While they were still popular among hunters, a growing number of people were relying on the devices as a security measure, thanks to the improved quality of the cameras.

alexia.johnston@alliedpress.co.nz

Central Rural Life