Warren Lynam

Police seize $20k of stolen cattle

POLICE from NSW and Queensland seized more than $20,000 worth of stolen livestock and had to muster 600 cattle in a three-day raid.

Despite the success, police concede it barely scratches the surface of cattle duffing across the two States.

Between Monday and Wednesday this week a rural crime investigator based in Casino and part of the Richmond Local Area Command (LAC) joined Queensland Stock and Rural Crime investigators to search properties at Legume and Koreelah, west of Woodenbong.

At one of the rural properties, the seven police officers had the arduous task of searching more than 1000ha of land. The other property was about 100ha.

Richmond LAC crime manager Detective Acting Inspector Michael Smith said the raids were carried out as part of a Queensland-led investigation into stolen cattle and fraud offences.

Police located and mustered more than 600 head of cattle. They identified and recovered 41 allegedly stolen cattle valued at more than $20,000.

Because of the sheer size of the search, the police who were on horseback were required to camp overnight on the properties.

Det A/Insp Smith said police would investigate where the cattle came from and how they ended up on the Koreelah and Legume properties.

He said while there were instances of this type of crime in the area, much of it was not widely reported.

Stock theft commonly involved knowledge of the targeted property, the assistance of a car or motorbike for duffing and a large getaway vehicle.

Between July 2009 and June 2010 there were 11 reported stock thefts in the Kyogle Local Government Area (LGA). Last year that figure fell to three.

In the Richmond Valley LGA, there were nine reported stock thefts during the last financial year and five in Tenterfield Shire.

However, Australian Institute of Criminology figures suggest only 50% of rural crime is reported.

And Richmond LAC rural crime investigator Detective Sergeant Mark Banfield agrees.

"Crime might happen to a farmer over a period of time," he recently told The Star.

"They may let it go and something major will happen and they will say 'that's enough'.

"It does help if the crime is reported, no matter how small. They should call the police and make a report."

Det Sgt Banfield said thieves often re-sold stock quickly.

Farm security, including locking gates and stock identity tags, were important, he said.

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