Livestock and machinery theft epidemic leaving farmers at breaking point
FERMANAGH & South Tyrone MLA Lord Morrow has demanded urgent action to stamp put rural crime in the walk of the recent “epidemic” of livestock and farm machinery thefts.
Lord Morrow said those carrying out the crimes appear to be operating with impunity, leaving their victims at crisis point.
He said: “In the past four months there have been 12 confirmed cases of livestock theft in the Dungannon and Clogher Valley areas. In addition farmers and contractors are losing equipment and machinery and those involved appear to be able to steal at will and act with impunity.
“To date there have been no arrests.
“The rural and farming community are at breaking point and with due cause feel they are the poor relation when it comes to crime detection and prevention. The agriculture industry is already suffering enough hardship and with the added thefts our farmers are becoming exasperated.
“A number of constituents have spoken to me in a distressed and frustrated state, as there seems to be no end to this epidemic of thefts. Indeed some are at the point of considering ceasing farming altogether as the insurance premiums are simply too costly, and they cannot function without stock and machinery.
“In the past fortnight a farmer in the Dungannon area put a flock of 40 ewes in lamb on a 20 acre field and within a matter of days, all but one were taken. Having spoken to him, he was devastated and angry and didn’t know where to turn.
“These thefts are clearly being carried out in an organised manner and whilst it is not known if they are connected, there are others assisting the offenders. Livestock and heavy machinery don’t just take themselves off. There is planning and transport involved as well as a base for the stolen goods to be hidden.Those who are doing this are knowledgeable enough to select the prime choice of herds.
“The Department of Agriculture together with the Police need to step up to their responsibilities to the rural and farming communities.
“I have been calling on the DARD Minister to introduce mandatory micro-chipping of farm animals along with existing tagging rules to protect against rustling, and indeed the illegal dumping of fallen stock, but have been told this can only be supported by European legislation, which at present is not within the rules.
“I have also sought an assurance that all relevant paperwork of ownership and animal health are verified when an animal is presented for slaughter, and have been advised all abattoirs In Northern Ireland are fully compliant.
“That would therefore suggest stolen stock is being taken to order and moved outside the jurisdiction or is being carried out covertly in the locale. Wherever is going on, there is a black market somewhere and it’s thriving at the expense of our farming community.
“Last summer the PSNI launched a high profile campaign on addressing rural and agricultural crime in which they acknowledged these offences were on the increase, but were working hard to address the issue.
“Unfortunately for the victims in Dungannon and Clogher Valley, this is not being demonstrated satisfactorily and, public confidence is at an all-time low.
“Immediate and decisive steps must be taken.”
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Weather for Dungannon
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 11 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: South