Operation Stock Check to target stock theft and rural crime launched in Armidale by NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller

Talking rural crime: NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller launches the operation at UNE in Armidale on Monday. Photo: Peter Hardin
Talking rural crime: NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller launches the operation at UNE in Armidale on Monday. Photo: Peter Hardin

Every police officer - no matter their rank or unit - will be trained to intercept any vehicle that could be carrying stolen stock as the force moves to crackdown on rural crime.

Operation Stock Check was the brainchild of Moree rural crime Detective Sergeant Bennett Nolan who saw firsthand the problems on the ground with criminals working after dark to steal stock - whether its cattle, sheep or goats.

Stock theft is estimated to have cost the state as much as $40 million since 2015, and is a big issue across the bush in places like the New England and Oxley policing districts.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKenie did the honours to launch the new operation in Armidale on Monday.

"There's 17,000 police who work across NSW who we will train and we will empower to stop vehicles and check stock," he said.

He told the Leader the stock theft - 10,000 cattle and 88,000 sheep in the past five years - was just another blow to drought-ravaged farmers.

He said the stock theft "numbers in their thousands are concerning".

"Farmers are under enormous pressure, they need all the help and all the support they can get, so from the Commissioner to the community we will continue to support, to strengthen the industry to minimise opportunities for theft," Commissioner Fuller said.

Head of the force's rural crime unit, Detective Inspector Cameron Whiteside, said those doing the right thing shouldn't be worried.

"It's not about attacking the livestock carriers or the farmers going about their day to day work, conveying their stock to the saleyards or to other properties, it's aimed squarely at the criminals that prey upon our farmers in our rural areas," Detective Whiteside said.

Talking rural crime: NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKenie did the honours to launch the new operation in Armidale on Monday. Photo: Peter Hardin

Talking rural crime: NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKenie did the honours to launch the new operation in Armidale on Monday. Photo: Peter Hardin

He said it was taking away the temptation for criminals to pounce, given stock prices are at record highs after the rain.

"The reward to still the stock [prices are] quite high, and the risk is quite low and this operation is aimed squarely at increasing that risk, increasing the risk of those that are stealing the stock that they will be caught," he said.

It relies on farmers, livestock agents and carriers dotting their i's and crossing their t's with all their transport paperwork.

"It's a great opportunity to skill up our general duties police who are out about on our roads, who are actually seeing these vehicles but up until now may have lacked some of the skills necessary to check those stock against a permit and reconcile that," Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie said.

Detective Whiteside said everyone needs to ensure "animals are fit to load" and "police won't take up much of your time".

"What we want to do is intercept the stock theft corridors and there are far too many around the state," he said.

This story Stopping stock theft: cops move on crims in the bush first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.