OZ - Cattle thieves hit NSW farms

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Cattle thieves hit NSW farms

When cattle duffers hit Max Corby's property and loaded up 90 steers in one night, they robbed him of a quarter of his income for the year.

"They must have backed up a double-decker and loaded them up in one go," Mr Corby said.

The property is off the main road and nobody saw a thing.

It was a devastating blow to Mr Corby, 68, who's on crutches. The steers are his only income and he lost $40,000 that night.

There is no insurance, and because the cattle could have been stolen any time within two months of putting them out to graze, there is little chance of finding the rustlers.

Mr Corby, whose property is near Goulburn, is the latest victim in a growing number of farmers hit by a duffing racket.

Now farmers and police are pushing for the microchipping of the millions of cattle and sheep across NSW as a way to combat theft.

The identification would also help the export of meat as many overseas markets demand to know the animals' history from birth to abattoir.

Wagga Wagga Police Superintendent Steve Bradshaw said livestock theft had soared in the past few months as duffers realised the prices they could get.

But farmers are gearing up to take on the duffers themselves and will hold a crisis meeting in Goulburn on Thursday.

"We have to realise this is a big problem and not some romantic notion of bushrangers or swagmen putting jumbucks in their tuckerbags," said Ruth Croker, who had 52 stud ewes stolen from her Crookwell property.

She has had 900 sheep stolen from her farm this year, and believes the stock thieves are well organised.

"When you have 10,000 sheep on a property it takes a while to notice that you have some missing. The thieves take them after you have been docking or shearing so they know you won't be counting them again for some months.

"We lost $15,000 worth of stud ewes in one night. They would ultimately have been worth about $100,000.

"It isn't just the loss of income that is worrying farmers. What about the transport of disease from one part of the country to another? If they steal from a quarantined property the diseased sheep can quickly infect other flocks."

NSW Farmers Association director of livestock Joe Lane said more than $1.5 million worth of stock was reported stolen every year.

"But the real figure is much higher as most farmers don't bother reporting stock theft," Mr Lane said.

He estimates only about 20pc of such thefts are reported.

"They think police don't have time to chase stock thieves and they know the clean-up rate is zero.

"We need to get farmers to report every theft so police and politicians realise the size of the problem."

The association wants the Stock Squad, disbanded 10 years ago, to be reinstated.


Stock duffing is alive and well in our provincial isolation too. How goes it in America? We seem to have a growing problem Down Under, although it has been with us all along. It's a bit more noticable now, what with trying to make a honest living in trying times.

Anyway, I thought this might interest you mob across the big pond...

Regards from Down Under

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), October 01, 2000

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