To combat rural crime and stock rustling, a recent meeting in Gisborne was an important step forward in Federated Farmers and the Police’s collaborative approach.
“Crime Prevention is a major focus for Federated Farmers and the police,” says Hamish Cave, Federated Farmers Gisborne-Wairoa provincial president.
“We recently held a highly productive meeting with Gisborne Police, including both community and rural officers. Federated Farmers members from across the province and representatives of the stock and station and the transport industries were also there.
“It’s fair to say we’re looking to create a rural team to support the Police in combatting rural crime and stock rustling especially; the main purpose of the meeting.
“What’s at stake here is farmers’ livelihoods. We also suspect those rustling stock are involved in a lot more crime.
“Federated Farmers is going to help up-skill the police in understanding how Animal Status Declarations, stock movement and new tagging requirements mesh together. Rustling is too widespread not to have an organised dimension.
“In return, police need farmers to report any suspicious activity and unusual vehicles. They are especially keen for missing stock to be reported because they may be able to match them to dumped skins.
“Knowledge is power and a combination of farmers and police will be potent.
“Next we will have small community meetings with police across Gisborne-Wairoa. From there we hope to establish community groups linked to a community coordinator who’ll receive and pass information to police,” Mr Cave concluded.
Tairawhiti Area Commander, Inspector Sam Aberahama, said police were concerned at the level of stock rustling occurring in rural areas throughout Tairawhiti including the East Coast, Gisborne and Wairoa.
"We have had some good results in catching stock rustlers, but there are opportunities to work closer with farming communities, stockagents and transporters to further prevent this type of crime happening. The police can't do this alone and we rely heavily on these groups to be our eyes and ears. We urge anyone who sees any suspicious behaviour to contact us immediately," Mr Aberahama said.
There were nine rural police stations in the Gisborne-Wairoa area stretching from Kotemaori in the south to Te Araroa in the north. Police staff were keen to establish strong links with the farming communities in these areas, including Wairoa and Ruatoria.
"Unless our community step up and speak up about who is stealing sheep or cattle, then it makes it a lot harder to overcome this problem. We are aware some of our community members know who is responsible for stealing stock, but they won't tell the police. We need to change the thinking of our community to speak up and say enough is enough," Mr Aberahama said.
It was incumbent upon the whole rural community to work closer together - including stock agents, transport companies, farmers, police and the community. If someone was selling cheap meat or giving it away or farming stolen sheep or cattle, then police should be notified.
"These crooks need to be locked up and that is what we will do."
The meeting was a success and several actions have resulted. Police will be trained in traceability, farming communities will be trained in crime prevention and we will have a far better communication plan adopted to operate throughout the region.