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Farm crime drops; research continues

Media Release

30 October 2003

Joint media release from Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Hon Chris Ellison and Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Senator the Hon Judith Troeth

The number of Australian farms affected by crime has fallen slightly, according to the results of the second National Farm Crime Survey released today by the Australian Government.

The Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Judith Troeth, said results from the second Survey showed that 13 per cent of dairy and broadacre farms experienced some type of crime - down from 15 per cent in the first Survey.

Senator Ellison and Senator Troeth said 10,000 forms have been sent out tomorrow so farmers could provide input into the third Survey, conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology.

"Farm crime is a serious problem, with $72 million lost to farmers during 2001/02," Senator Ellison said.

"Livestock theft (six per cent), general theft (five per cent) and vandalism/damage to farm property (three per cent) were the three most commonly reported types of crime. It is not just farmers that are directly affected - the effects are also felt by the wider rural community and agricultural industry," he said.

Senator Troeth said that the unique nature of farms often made properties more vulnerable to thieves, with remoteness and distance between properties and ease of access because of improvements to transport infrastructure two key factors.

"Unfortunately, a relaxed attitude towards security is also making farms more vulnerable, and the higher value of livestock and other on-farm goods because of the drought has exacerbated the problem."

The first two National Farm Crime Surveys showed that one-quarter of farms affected by crime were repeat victims, and only about half of all farm crime experienced was reported to police in the mistaken belief that police could do nothing about it.

Senator Ellison strongly encouraged farmers to participate in the third farm crime survey.

"These questionnaires will provide an opportunity for farmers to let us know about their views and experiences - even those farmers who have not experienced farm crime, as ideas on why a farm has not been targeted could be very useful in developing preventative strategies for other farmers to adopt." Along with the surveys, in-depth interviews with community groups, crime prevention and stock squad officers and individual farmers will be conducted during November 2003 in Western Australia and Queensland.