The Australian state New South Wales (NSW) deals with a myriad of security challenges — of the state's approximately eight million residents, 5.3 million live in Sydney, the country's most populous city. Many of the remaining 2.7 million residents live in rural and remote areas, presenting unique challenges to law enforcement securing rural communities.
One significant security threat in NSW's rural areas is livestock theft. The targeting and theft of livestock has a significant impact on farmers across the state, with over $8.5 million worth of cattle and sheep reported stolen in the past two years alone.
In response to the incidents of livestock theft, NSW's Rural Crime Prevention Team has relaunched Operation Stock Check, an ongoing and proactive operation to prevent livestock theft by disrupting the movement of stolen stock throughout NSW.
Operation Stock Check was initially launched in August 2020, and allows officers of all ranks to inspect vehicles carrying livestock to identify and target loads which may have been stolen. Officers throughout the state will be increasing livestock carrier inspections and rural patrols targeting known transportation routes.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Paul Toole said the NSW government’s biggest increase in police numbers in more than 30 years has delivered an additional 10 rural crime investigators to help law enforcement stay ahead of the game and disrupt criminal activity before it occurs.
"While rural crimes like stock theft may not dominate the headlines, they are a huge kick in the guts to our hardworking farmers and their families with the potential to cripple entire livelihoods. That’s why we’re ensuring police have the right resources to proactively run these operations and protect regional communities," said Toole.
In addition to carrier inspections and increased patrols, NSW law enforcement will increase community engagement with farmers in the state. said the NSW Police Force takes livestock theft extremely seriously due to the devastating impact it can have on farmers.
"This operation is one of a number of steps the NSW Police Force is taking to protect the livelihoods of our farmers, who have enough to deal with without having to worry about criminals stealing their stock," said Corporate Sponsor for Rural Crime, Western Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Brett Greentree, APM.
"Officers will also be interacting with farmers and engaging with members of their rural communities to ensure they are protecting their stock in every way they can, because prevention is key," Greentree said.