CLAMPING down on escape boundaries was a hot topic at the second livestock and farm crime specialist group state conference.
The Victoria Police Crime Department started its two-day conference yesterday in Bendigo.
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The conference saw 50 Agricultural Liason Officers (AGLOs), Department of Primary Industries officials, government, saleyard representatives and the Victorian Farmers Federation congregate to share intelligence, knowledge and ideas on farm crime.
Members of the NSW and Queensland rural taskforces also attended to share their experiences.
Detective Sen-Constable Scott Barton from NSW Police said networking between the states was vital in reducing escape boundaries and target offenders travelling offenders.
He said NSW had noticed a rise in wool theft, illegal hunting and farm trespassers stealing machinery and fuel.
"We are helped by resources such a Neighbourhood Watch, National Parks, external livestock agencies and the RSPCA,'' Sen-Constable Barton said.
"We have found the best way of preventing and solving farm crime is by increasing on-farm security, taking note of strange vehicles and early reporting.''
The conference yesterday was filled with presentations and the today will involve a trip to the Bendigo saleyards to demonstrate the way theft can occur and how electronic tag readers can help track livestock.
Head of Practice for the Livestock and Farm Crime Specialist Group Superintendent Craig Gillard discussed where to take the Victorian program, and drew on the experience of other states to help generate ways to deal with Victorian issues.
"We just want to get the message out there that farmers need to report these thefts and work with us to try and recover any stolen livestock or machinery,'' he said.
VFF livestock manager Charlotte Fox spoke about the impact farm theft could have on livelihoods.
"Primary industries are very sensitive and theft can affect income quickly,'' Ms Fox said.
"If a header gets stolen, then the farmer can't cut at the right time and can't meet contracts.''
Weekly Times Now last month reported exclusive farm crime statistics which showed there were 344 recorded livestock theft offences in 2011/2012, up from 250 the year before.
Throughout the state, 6292 sheep, 356 cattle, 92 pigs, 53 poultry, 35 goats, 26 horses and one Llama were stolen last financial year.
Supt Gillard said there had also been an increase in the theft of farm machinery and equipment including tractors and chemicals.
Police have established a network of 45 AGLOs throughout the state who deal specifically with livestock theft and farm related crime.
"Most of these guys have grown up on farms and this issue is close to their hearts,'' Supt Gillard said.