THE recent thefts on rural properties in the Pingaring district are a timely reminder to be vigilant during the holiday season.
Two men from Mandurah are expected to face 54 charges after being arrested by Kondinin police following a spate of alleged thefts from four farms and a golf course in the Pingaring district over the Christmas week.
Pingaring farmer Harry Hodgson, Amaroo Farm, said the smart use of social media helped police catch the men, who “had a history in the region”, and had most of the stolen items at their house.
Mr Hodgson said he posted on social media that he had equipment and other items stolen from his property when he was out checking his dams on Christmas Day.
“I put it out there and the post spread like a virus,” Mr Hodgson said.
He said his neighbours and friends warned others what to look out for and because the men continued to be active in the area over four nights they weren’t hard to spot.
His neighbours were also targeted by the alleged thieves.
“If they had done a one off they might have got away with it but because they were active for a few nights it was much easier to track them down,” Mr Hodgson said.
“The bloke was refused bail after they found other stuff in his house.”
He said about $15,000 worth of equipment and supplies was stolen from his property, although most of it had been returned.
“They took five shearing heads worth $2000 each, as well as an auger engine,” he said.
“I’ve got the bulk of the stuff back.
“There’s still $1000-$1500 worth missing.
“They were bold and targeting small moveable stuff that could easily be carried.”
Mr Hodgson said he was confident that the police would get a result in the courts.
“It’s pretty hurtful,” he said.
“And a pretty low thing to do over Christmas.”
Mr Hodgson said there were other reports that more than 100 sheep had been stolen from the Kondinin area as well in recent weeks (see story above).
While it is not always possible to track down those responsible for livestock thefts, for various reasons, police have increased their efforts in recent months – even participating in a meeting at Katanning last year to address farmers concerns and give advice to reduce the number of reports.
Police said in June that a 44-year-old Kondinin shearing contractor had been convicted for three burglaries and stealing, possessing stolen property and serious drug offences after being caught in April.
“He has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment,” Kondinin Police tweeted.
“A great result achieved with community assistance.”
The items that were taken were small or easy to carry and added up to hundreds of dollars, if not more.
Police are also still investigating reports of stock thefts dating back earlier in the year when “82 Merino ewes were stolen” from a property on Kulin Rock Road between January 8-April 14, 2018.
“Please be vigilant and report suspicious activity to police,” they said.
Police have advised that rural property owners should ensure that they have locks on their gates and use motion sensor cameras where possible to improve on-farm security.
In its Rural Crime Prevention Advice booklet, police said when designing or building new sheds or yards to “consider surveillance”, ideally locating them in sight of a farmhouse.
“Make it hard for thieves to access your property to discourage them,” police said.
“Use good quality chains and padlocks to lock doors and gates.
“Gates at entrances to your property and high risk areas should be as strong as possible, mounted securely to strong corner posts, and locked with heavy-duty chains and padlocks.
“Movement sensor spotlights could also be considered where practical.”
Police also advised to park unused machinery out of sight or in locked sheds and maintain an inventory (including photographs) with a description of the serial numbers, chassis and model numbers of machines.
“Research indicates livestock theft is the most significant rural crime,” police said.
To prevent or aid police in identifying stolen stock they have advised to “maintain good stock records”, with accurate details of all bought and sold stock from the property.
“Record all births and deaths of livestock and record all details of identification numbers,” they said.
“Regularly check your stock and the paddocks and fences where the stock are grazing.”
Kondinin farmer Beau Repacholi is furious that 108 blue tag ewes have disappeared from his farm, assumed stolen.
Mr Repacholi said after finishing harvest on December 13, the next job on the agenda was to separate the rams from the ewes.
“I took the 108 ewes to a paddock just three kilometres from the house and sheds to eat out a pasture paddock,” he said.
“That was on December 18.”
Returning to the paddock just over a week later, on December 27, to shift the sheep he realised they had gone.
“The fences around that paddock are perfect and there were no signs of them moving through a fence or gate,” Mr Repacholi said.
The ewes were mated blue tags with five months wool on them, equating to about three to four kilograms of wool on each, which amounts to quite a lot of money at current prices.
Mr Repacholi said the sheep going missing would have a big impact on their flock size with his breeding ewe numbers now down to 2100 head.
“With wool production being so good we are at quite a loss,” he said.
“Now we will keep our wethers until mid-year instead of selling them early.”
According to Mr Repacholi, there had been three similar incidents near Kondinin in the past year.
“It usually involves about 50-100 sheep going at a time,” he said.
Mr Repacholi said the local police had been contacted and he hoped to find his sheep soon.