WHO’S WATCHING? Outdoor camera expert Damian Byrne.
WHO’S WATCHING? Outdoor camera expert Damian Byrne. Contributed

Diesel thefts prompts vigilance

A RISE in the number of rural fuel thefts across the Southern Downs is believed to be one of the reasons for a spike in security camera sales.

Darling Downs-based security camera specialist Damian Byrne said he had sold more than a hundred motion-detecting cameras to landholders around the wider-Warwick area during the past year.

"Sales have definitely increased even more so over the past six months and the majority of rural people are buying them to combat diesel and machinery theft," he said.

"Some of the best units have the capacity to get photos of car registration plates when the vehicles travelling up to 100kmh, so they are sophisticated.

"They also have a black flash so intruders won't be aware their photographs are being taken or their actions are being recorded from up to 10m away."

Mr Byrne said there had been several instances, including one in Warwick in May, where photographs or video footage from these security cameras had been successfully used by rural landholders to convict criminals.

While a spokesperson for Warwick Police said they were unaware of a rise in rural fuel thefts they admitted many landholders often failed to report their suspicions.

One Allora landholder who has lost diesel from machines in the paddock as well as tanks near his home described the situation as "frustrating".

"If we leave a harvester or chaser bin in the paddock now we make sure we park the vehicles with their fuel tanks facing each other and as close together as possible," he said.

"In the past we've come back to the paddock in the morning and seen tyre tracks where they have just parked beside the machines and siphoned the fuel out.

"So we want to make it as difficult as possible now, but my biggest worry is next time they'll turn up and vandalise or wreck my gear, because they can't get to the fuel."

Now farming organisations such as AgForce are urging

landholders to report missing fuel, farm equipment and machinery in an attempt to get accurate data on farm theft.

For operations such as Damian Byrne's Outdoor Cameras Australia, the push for tighter farm security and "real evidence" to use against criminals is proving a boon for business.

"We are now seeing more lifestyle-hobby farmers introducing these sorts of security cameras as well," Mr Byrne said.

"The fact is rural property, because it tends to be isolated and people are often trusting, is often seen as a soft target for criminals. So the cameras are one way of seeing who is out and about on your place."

Mr Byrne ventured into the outdoor camera retail sector several years ago after more than a decade of using the large, cumbersome early model recording gear in his work as a wild dog researcher.

His experience in rural and regional Queensland, coupled with his appreciation of the increasingly sophisticated motion-trigger cameras prompted his change in career.

"When we were using early cameras to record wild dogs the cameras were the size of a suitcase," he said.

"They also needed to be fairly heavy duty so there were creature and weather proof."

Nowadays he said technology had advanced to the stage a quality camera could fit in your hand, was capable of withstanding most weather conditions and had a battery life of months.

"We are selling this gear all over Australia, with industries like mining and timber cutting, where expensive machinery and gear is often left in isolated areas particularly interested," Mr Byrne said.

"But locally rural landholders are predominantly buying an initial camera to set up either at the front gate or in their sheds or near machinery in the paddock.

"The appeal of these cameras is they are easy to operate, extremely transportable and difficult to detect."

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