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Cattle Theft

Recently released statistics from NSW Police state, 1,717 cattle and 8,095 sheep have been reported stolen in the first five months of 2017, average market prices indicate, in this period, that those thefts have cost farmers approximately $2.7M. This is a very small slice of time, indicating the farmers of NSW and elsewhere are suffering greatly.

In early 2017, meat prices reached a near-record highs with sheep fetching up to $150 a head and cattle selling for about $1,500 a head.

It is the theft of female stock that causes the farmers the most angst. Mature breeding females, being the lifeblood of any cattle farm, are the production line of the business, and any theft can easily set back a breeding program 12 to 18 months.

Assistant Police Commissioner Geoff McKechnie said the impact of rural crime on farmers goes beyond the cost of the initial theft:

“It’s not just about the number of stock being stolen… it’s about breeding stock, it’s about years of work that’s gone into developing a line of particular types of animals, if that’s interrupted all that work is lost… Farmers can’t afford to have thousands of dollars’ worth of animals stolen and lose that income and lose the potential income from those animals.”

January – May 2017

  • 1,717 cattle reported stolen – $1,866,379 based on average market price
  • 8,095 sheep stolen – $825,690 based on average market price

In South Australia, the Freedom of Information research conducted by the also found more than 10,000 head of stock worth $2 million had been taken in the past two years.

Australia’s wool industry is experiencing a once in a generation resurgence, with strong demand from China and short supplies of wool are behind the surge the market. states:

“Wool is undergoing a renaissance not seen since the golden era of the 1950s… with record prices set this week and a billion dollars in sales in the last four months… with the price signal, the Eastern Market Indicator (EMI), reaching an all-time high of 1,623 cents per kilogram.”

Limited supply and increased demand means overall value increase, and so criminals see an opportunity to makes vast profits. Australia’s sheep flock reached its heady peak back in the 1990’s with the flock count at approximately 180 million. Since then the flock has dwindled to around 70 million, therefore supply has decreased by close to 60% meaning, in these resurgent times, the value of sheep makes the crime more profitable.

In NSW, the theft of cattle is a very serious offence, with the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) stating at section 126:

Whosoever steals any cattle, or wilfully kills any cattle with intent to steal the carcass, or skin, or other part, of the cattle so killed, shall be liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.

GPS Tracking may be the answer with farmers looking to technology to assess if their cattle has been stolen or merely wandered as part of fluctuating grazing patterns.

What is clear that if the price per head of cattle remains high, so will cattle theft until resources are allocated to combat the pilfering.

Been charged with cattle theft?

If you have been charged in NSW with cattle theft, you are facing a significant term of imprisonment for up to 14 years.

If so, contact Armstrong Legal for an obligation free consultation to plan your defence on 1300 168 676.

Image Credit – Dieter Hawlan ©

Written by Tyson Brown on May 12, 2018

Tyson has a down to earth, straightforward approach to life and the law, one which is well received by all who meet him. Tyson has the ability to relate to all clients on a personal level, having spent many years prior to his legal career in customer service and hospitality. View Tyson's profile

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