Thousands of sheep and cattle are being stolen across the state costing farmers millions of dollars.
Police have said thieves are cashing in on the good times with prices for livestock reaching record highs throughout the year.
According to NSW Police livestock theft statistics for between January and October 2017, there were 2650 cattle and 15,097 sheep reported stolen, which cost farmers $2.8 million and $1.4m respectively.
“There is significant value on all types of livestock, which makes it more attractive for thieves and an increased risk for producers,” said NSW Police Western Region Commander, assistant commissioner Geoff McKechnie.
In the past 12 months, Mr McKechnie said while there had been a slight downward trend in rural crime incidents reported across the state, there were still significant reports in illegal trespass and hunting.
Between January and October there were 279 events of rural trespass with 22 in October alone, mainly around the Darling River near Bourke and the Barwon at Moree.
Police also had 543 reports of illegal hunting, with hot spots in the Deniliquin area.
He said goat thefts had declined compared to last year when international demand for the meat resulted in prices skyrocketing.
“Out here in western NSW there has been a change in goat husbandry, where farmers are putting in place more fences and are more aware of the numbers they are carrying because of their value,” he said.
He added the thefts involved a mixture of opportunistic crime with one or two animals taken, to organised crime where large numbers were removed.
“We don’t recover huge number as stock are moved large distances and cross boarders,” he said.
“But the numbers are stable because of the increased level of vigilance that comes with the value.
“Us (the police) along with other organisations are doing a lot of work making people aware.”
There were some significant cattle thefts in October, including 50 head of Santa Gertrudis-cross cattle reported stolen in the Hunter Valley, 32 Angus cattle removed from a property in the Tamworth area, as well as 16 cows and calves taken from Cootamundra.
Other thefts between January and October included 442 goats, 18 horses, 15 poultry (including one incident where birds were taken from a school’s agriculture plot), 12 pigs, nine birds, seven dogs and one alpaca.
In that same period, there was 40,000 litres of fuel was stolen, with the largest incident involving the theft of 3500 litres of diesel taken from a property near Griffith in the Riverina.