Despite cattle prices reaching new highs in 2022, Queensland Police have confirmed that there has been a significant decrease in stock theft this year.
In 2022, 1078 head of cattle were reported as stolen, in comparison to 6003 head in 2021, 4013 head in 2020 and 4243 head in 2019.
A QPS spokesperson said that higher prices had driven producers to be more vigilant with their stock, with increased media reporting and biosecurity measures also adding to theft prevention.
"Statistics indicate there has been a significant decrease in stock theft, compared to previous years," they said.
"The overall prices of livestock have increased dramatically, which increases overall management practices and vigilance of property owners due to the commodity being of significant value.
"Media reporting has increased in relation to successful prosecutions and outcomes, we believe this can deter offending and remind property owners to be vigilant.
"Rural and Stock Crime Squad officers are proactive in the community with operations conducted at saleyards, transport operator compliance and increased networking with industry stakeholders focussing on disruption strategies.
"Biosecurity concerns around current disease concerns (Foot and Mouth, Lumpy Skin Disease) has seen increased messaging and enforcement which adds to overall disruption avenues."
QPS also said that the dramatic drop in stolen cattle could be skewed by the finalisation of older investigations that occurred outside of this year, while the huge number of cattle reported as stolen last year consisted of several large-scale thefts.
"The theft of livestock continues to be mostly protracted investigations which can take considerable time to investigate and finalise," they said.
"Therefore, reported thefts from the past several years are still part of active investigations, which could have an impact on overall figures and reporting mechanisms, including the correct finalisation of reports (located, deceased, cancelled, stolen).
"In 2021, in relation to cattle, we had 99 occurrences reported on QPrime. To date, for 2022, in relation to cattle, we have had 53 occurrences reported on QPrime.
"Of note, in relation to the 6003 head reported stolen in 2021, of the 99 occurrences - five of the occurrences related to had a total of 4678 head.
"Those five occurrences relating to cattle numbers have had a large impact on 2021 figures and is not an accurate reflection of the number of reports received."
In 2022, QPS confirmed that 418 sheep had been reported as stolen, an increase on last year's number of 14 head, but considerably lower than the 1914 head reported stolen in 2020.
A QPS spokesperson attributed the continued low numbers of sheep theft to an increase in exclusion fencing across the state.
"Sheep theft reports continue to be made by pastoralists and landholders however in small numbers," they said.
"There is a marked increase in the use of exclusion fencing in the West, primarily to prevent the loss of stock due to wild dogs, however this fencing also contains livestock within the boundaries of particular properties.
"This limits the movements and 'wandering stock' due to poor fencing and management practices.
"On occasion, 'wandering stock' are initially reported as stolen only to be located a considerable distance from their home paddock/s at a later date."
In addition to an increase in public reports, QPS said that uniformed officers are now receiving more livestock training and stock squad officers have a greater presence within rural communities.
"Proactive Operations focussing on compliance, messaging and enforcement in rural communities, transport companies and stock agents leads to a form of 'word of mouth advertising' that stock squad officers are out and about in rural communities," they said.
"Increased media reporting on successful outcomes and requests for assistance by community members all adds to disruption.
"The very nature of rural communities and the unique communication style within these communities allows for the word to spread quickly that activity is occurring in a certain area.
"Increased livestock investigation training to uniformed officers in procedures has seen an increase of investigative avenues, which in turn provides investigators with the ability to further investigations and speak with persons of interest. This causes a disruption effect if no prosecution can be commenced."
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