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Crime Stoppers launches campaign turning farmers into part-time cops

Crime Stoppers Queensland has launched a campaign intended to remind rural Queenslanders the importance of reporting all forms of rural and farm-related crime.

May 13, 2024, updated May 13, 2024
Livestock theft, or 'cattle rustling' is an example of farm crime. (Image from Crime Stoppers Queensland).

Livestock theft, or 'cattle rustling' is an example of farm crime. (Image from Crime Stoppers Queensland).

According to the University of New England’s (UNE) Centre for Rural Criminology, rural crime costs the community and government millions of dollars in losses each year in Australia. 

The category of ‘farm crime’ includes livestock theft, theft of materials like tools, machinery or equipment, illegal hunting and fishing, theft of homes, illegal dumping, theft of fuel and more.

Rural crime is believed to be consistently underreported even by victims. UNE’s research suggests the reluctance to report crimes is primarily ascribed to a lack of confidence in police interest and capacity to solve crimes if they were to be reported, and perceptions of barriers to investigating crimes in rural areas.

Other reasons offered for non-reporting included a belief that the crime was not serious enough to report or concerns about drawing revenge within small communities.

The issue with unreported crime is that we cannot fully appreciate or respond to it,” said Detective Inspector David Briese from the Queensland Police Service Rural and Stock Crime Squad.

“It’s also an issue when the crime is reported late as we cannot then utilise our resources in a timely way providing the criminals responsible with opportunity to cover their tracks and avoid detection.

“We need the rural community to work with us and to report what has happened as soon as they become aware of it. Your information could be what helps identify the people involved in rural crime activity and prevent further offences from occurring.”

According to Dr Alistair Harkness of UNE, under-reporting is known as the “dark figure of crime” — and it can affect the allocation of law enforcement resources as police respond to areas with higher crime statistics.

Crime Stoppers Queensland’s campaign encourages Queensland farmers and their communities “to unsettle and disrupt all aspects of the rural crime trade and anonymously report anything that may seem unusual or suspicious.”

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According to its messaging by anonymously sharing information about incidents or suspicious behaviour, the community can help law enforcement address these issues more effectively.

Funded by Crime Stoppers Queensland, the campaign is said to be the beginning of a long-term approach that promises to “establish sustained engagement with rural farmers and an ongoing commitment to support the wider community”, though it will initially run for a period of only five months. 

It will apparently employ a strategic mix of grassroots local community engagement activities, local media stories, and marketing activities. Crime Stoppers Queensland, with support from AgForce Queensland and the Queensland Police Service, will also work to establish a Rural Crime Advisory Group (RCAG).

The RCAG will seek to communicate how crime is impacting rural communities and help connect support providers with victims of crime.

The CEO of Crime Stoppers Queensland, David Hansen said, “If you don’t report these crimes, who will? If you see something, say something. Remaining silent means criminals can continue vandalising others.”

 

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