Atkinsons Dam farmer Dale Burns
Atkinsons Dam farmer Dale Burns Dominic Elsome

Farmers being targeted, gear stolen by crooks

FARMERS believe they are being targeted by crooks and beefing up security to protect themselves from what they say is an increase in crime on the land.

It has forced a complete mindset change for some growers, who are no longer comfortable leaving things to chance on the farm.

Dale Burns, a third generation farmer on about 243ha at Atkinsons Dam, said his was just one of several local farms he knew of that had been hit recently.

About 80 sprays have been taken out of irrigation pipes and stolen from his land, and he knows of an operation in Lockrose that had 300 taken.

Mr Burns believes the brass sprays are being sold for scrap.

"They're about $45 brand new each," he said.

"It all adds up."

He said it was becoming a common theme.

 

Dale Burns
One of the sprays stolen from Dale Burns' farm.

One of his friends had a buggy stolen from the farm with the assailants waiting nearby in a car for him to move far enough while he was shifting pipes to be able to nick it.

Thankfully, it was located by police three days later and returned.

"You don't feel comfortable leaving a motorbike in the paddock while you're shifting pipes," Mr Burns said.

"People are taking their keys while they're shifting pipes."

He understood money was tight but Mr Burns said farmers were feeling the heat as well, with the price of water going up and dry conditions.

"Now these low lives take what we use to water with," he said.

"We're all local. We all chip in to help each other out and these buggers seems to hit us at the same time."

"Growing fruit and veg is hard enough as it is. The markets rip you off when you're selling to them and water is scarce so it's costing a fortune to do things."

Darren Zanow, who farms 100ha at Fernvale, had 175 brass sprays stolen and plans to replace them with plastic equivalents.

He said crime against farmers was "getting out of control".

"It's definitely getting worse," he said.

"We always have kept everything locked away anyway and we're installing motion detection cameras. We're beefing up security.

"Ours were worth about $30-$50 each. With pumping and water costs, it erodes profitability away and then people are stealing from you. It's pretty damn disrespectful."

He believed police needed to get in contact with scrap dealers.

Lowood Police officer in charge Senior Sergeant Bruce Peel said it was important these crimes were reported to police.

"Whilst we have had some reports of thefts of batteries and tradable metals in the Lowood area, it appears that not all people are reporting these incidents to police," he said.

"The installation of CCTV cameras could assist in capturing images of offenders and vehicles which will ultimately assist police in their investigations. Whilst cameras may not be able to monitor open fields, they may be able to depict vehicular or people movement in the vicinity and at or around the time of offences. Whilst it is acknowledged that some farm sheds are difficult to secure, police encourage vigilance with security of vehicles, homes, machinery and outbuildings wherever possible."

Snr Sgt Peel said thanks to CCTV footage and public information, police quickly apprehended and charged people responsible for the theft of electrical cabling and other items from CS Energry at Split Yard Creek earlier this month.