A LEADING western Victoria-based livestock manager says he hears about farm theft at least every week.
Peter McConachy, auctioneer and company director of livestock business Charles Stewart said an increase in farm theft has had a direct correlation to the price of cattle and sheep increasing in price over the past few years.
His comments come as Victoria Police launched the 'We're In It Together' campaign aimed at making farmers aware of rural theft.
VIDEO: POLICE LAUNCH FARM SAFETY CAMPAIGN
"Originally people would take a few, say 20 to 30 sheep and then that escalates to up to 150 over a period of time," Mr McConachy said.
"You can argue it's always been happening, but it's more prevalent now due to the increased value of the stock.
"Lambs can be making $150-200 (a head), sheep making $100 or better, it's quite enticing to go and get some easy money.
"We also see cattle disappear over a long period of time too. Cattle, while they are a lot more difficult to take, at the same time they are worth $1000-$1500, so if you take just one or two a night, you get a nice little windfall."
Ballarat's acting Superintendent Dan Davison visited the Central Victorian Livestock Exchange at Miners Rest on Tuesday to launch the campaign which is aimed at making rural property owners aware of the prevalence of theft from farms be it livestock, tools or even legally owned firearms.
"Farm crime is under reported across the state and in our local areas, and the key to solving crime in these rural areas is working with the community," Superintendent Davison said.
Mr McConachy said it was up to farmers to work together to reduce crime.
"A lot of people think, 'oh well, it's only 10 sheep', but the next door neighbour might have also lost 10 sheep and the neighbour to them as well, there's 30 sheep," he said.
"Most farmers will probably think they've miscounted them as most won't guard the stock every day.
"In a two to three month period, they might lose 20-30 and then that's when they notice."
"We've got to be more vigilant in what you do and more mindful of security whether you lock your paddocks or put CCTV on your paddock.
"It's hard on a big property, but if you lock you gate to start off, you'll know pretty quick if the gate has been cut and you've had someone come in."
Farmers and community members are being urged to report crime as part of a Pyrenees Community Safety Network (CSN) campaign.
If you're a victim of rural crime, call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 and make a report.
Have you signed up to The Courier's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in Ballarat.