A dramatic police raid on a Werneth house has thrust the issue of farm security under the spotlight after a 16-year-old male youth was accused of stealing 300 sheep valued at $80,000.
The latest developments come after Federation University criminal justice lecturer Alistair Harkness previously said research showed farm crime is under reported, with only 50 per cent of offences brought to police attention.
“The impact of this is that police don’t have an accurate picture (of farm crimes),” he said
Events leading up to the charges against the youth began earlier this month when Warrnambool and Camperdown police travelled to the Ballarat region and swooped on a property in Werneth near Skipton on December 20.
‘‘A search warrant was executed after the recent reported thefts of stock,’’ Detective Senior Constable Wayne Ryan said.
‘‘A stolen tandem trailer was located valued at $3000 and 48 (electronic) ear tags, which had been removed from sheep.
“A 16-year-old male youth was arrested in relation to theft of the trailer and possession of the stolen ear tags.’’
The youth was interviewed and has been charged with theft of the trailer, seven counts of theft of sheep valued at a total of $81,000 and serious driving offences.
Those offences included unlicensed driving and conduct endangering serious injury after he allegedly tried run a man off the road and rammed his vehicle.
The youth was released on bail to appear in a children’s court at a later date.
Police are also investigating another alleged incident involving the youth on December 21.
Detective Senior Constable Ryan said information from the public across the Ballarat region had proved invaluable in the investigation.
‘‘We would like to thank members of the community who contacted Crime Stoppers and local police, which led to us being able to apply for a search warrant,’’ he said.
It was reported none of the allegedly stolen sheep, which were previously in rural areas such as Cape Clear and Werneth, were found on the raided property.
Crime Stoppers has a dedicated rural section on its website, allowing farmers to report information confidentially about crimes specific to regional communities.