Community collaboration to reduce crimes against farmers in rural NSW

“Reporting is essential to preventing and solving crime”

Crime Stoppers NSW and the NSW Police Force, Rural Crime Prevention Team are at AgQuip, Gunnedah today to announce a state-wide crime campaign calling for the community to ramp up rural crime reporting with the aim of solving and preventing further crime.

Crime in rural NSW continues to remain high with 81%* of farmers experiencing crimes such as stock and fuel theft, trespassing and illegal hunting. The impact of crimes is exceptionally high causing financial, physical, and psychological devastation to farmers and has a flow on effect to the wider Australian economy.

However, the reporting of these crimes continues to be extremely low, and without these reports, crimes cannot be solved, and criminals remain free to continue to cause further havoc for our farmers.

A Rural Crime Advisory Group was established to enable community consultation to develop messaging and initiatives to help increase crime reporting and reduce crime.

Initiated by Crime Stoppers, the advisory group also includes the Rural Crime Prevention Team, Centre for Rural Criminology UNE, NSW Farmers Association, Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association, Livestock & Transporters Association, Livestock, Bulk & Rural Carriers Association, and the County Women’s Association.

This collaboration is working to ensure awareness and messaging on rural crime will reach the rural community in many different ways with the aim to increase victim reports to the Police Assistance Line (PAL) and increase reports on criminal activity to Crime Stoppers in order that strategies can be developed to prevent further crime. We need to be better informed; we can’t do that without the public reporting crime.

We know there are several barriers to reporting crime – confidence in what can be done; retrieval of stolen items; feeling personally responsible for the theft with costs and difficulty in implementing prevention measures and concern around retaliation as it may be someone, they know given their smaller communities.

A new campaign has been developed to address these barriers and work together for a better outcome for our farmers demonstrating the many different ways the community can report crime in their area including PAL, their local police station, Crime Stoppers and Triple Zero for emergencies. The campaign centres on the tagline – Be a pal and report any theft, any time, to PAL on 131 444 – and – Report suspicious or actual criminal information to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

CEO of Crime Stoppers NSW, Mr Peter Price said we can’t build community resilience and infrastructure if we are in the dark about farm crime.

“Being a victim of crime and reporting the crime, matters. If police don’t know about the crime, they can’t do anything. The more information reported, the better equipped the police are to act to prevent or solve a crime”, said Mr Price.

“If we all work together, the result will be a better, more prosperous future, and safer and healthier communities.

Under reporting of rural crime is always a significant barrier to targeting offenders. During 2021 and 2022 police recorded a decrease in the number of stock theft, malicious damage, and trespass offences on rural properties within NSW. However, during this period, police recorded a 96% increase in the number of reported fuel theft incidents.

Rural industries have told police that fuel theft was a major issue, however previously the incidents were not being reported to police. With the increased reporting of this crime, it will provide police with information to develop strategies to target specific locations and identify suspects.

The State Rural Crime Coordinator of the NSWPF Rural Crime Prevention Team, Detective Chief Inspector Cameron Whiteside said under reporting of rural crime continues to be a major problem in helping police prevent and solve crime.

“We need a whole of community approach to reduce and solve crime in regional areas and there are some measures that individuals can do to help prevent crime from happening to them,” said Det/Ch Insp Whiteside.

Farmers are urged to accurately record livestock identification, remove keys from machinery, keep photos of valuable stock to assist with identifying them and install quality locking devices on your gates, sheds, and equipment.

“If you see or hear of anything you believed to be suspicious such as a vehicle in an area it’s not meant to be, or stock being moved late at night; we urge you to call Crime Stoppers or your local police.”

The NSW Police Force Firearms Registry will have a presence at various agricultural events across the state to encourage community engagement.  They will be providing firearms safe storage guidance to rural firearms licence holders, as there is a direct correlation between improved safe storage of firearms and a reduction in firearms theft in rural areas.

The Firearms Registry is currently undertaking a campaign on Firearms Future Plans, asking licensed firearms owners to think ahead and include firearms in their estate plans. When firearms are not considered in estate planning, they are vulnerable to becoming lost or stolen.

All firearms owners should register their guns using the Gun Safe Customer Portal. With the recent digitisation of firearms licence expiry reminders notices, firearm registration certificates and permits to acquire firearms, this information is readily accessible electronically, reducing the risk of mail and paper-based firearms records becoming lost or targeted for the purpose of firearms theft with an overarching aim of improving community safety.

To assist the community further, Crime Stoppers and the Rural Crime Prevention Team have produced a range of free collateral to assist farmers, from pocket notebooks to record what they see to gate signs for property protection with details on where and how to report crime.  In addition, the Rural Crime Prevention Team and Crime Stoppers will have a presence at various agricultural events across the state to encourage community engagement.

The Advisory Group partners, along with the NSW Australian Hoteliers Association will all be helping to spread the message with their networks, ensuring a wider reach to the NSW community.

Liquor and Policing, Australian Hoteliers Association of NSW, Mr John Green said in regional NSW, pubs are very much community hubs so we are pleased to be able to help in getting the message out to patrons of the importance of reporting rural crime.

Fact sheets with prevention measures for farmers can be found on the NSW Crime Stoppers website at https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/be-safe/.

Crime in regional areas is not new, however it continues to be a growing area of concern for the whole of NSW, not just the farming community and therefore it needs a whole of community approach.

  • You can help by reporting anything suspicious, strange, or concerning.
  • Any piece of information, anything you have seen or heard, may be crucial in preventing or solving a crime.
  • Call or click Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000/ nsw.crimestoppers.com.au
  • For a crime in progress call Triple Zero (000). Save Triple Zero for Emergencies (000)

*Source:  NSW Farmers Survey, data analysis February 2021, Centre for Rural Criminology, University of New England.’

 Additional Images and video/audio footage can be found HERE

***PLEASE NOTE: Media inquiries and requests for interviews can be directed to Media Officer, Crime Stoppers NSW, Cecelia Haddad on phone: 0411 264 948 or email: [email protected] ***