Spate of rural theft reports force police to call for public vigilance

ALERT: Police Sergeant Mel Eason stands at an unlocked Mid North farm gate. Thefts at farms, residential properties and windfarms have spiked in recent weeks.
ALERT: Police Sergeant Mel Eason stands at an unlocked Mid North farm gate. Thefts at farms, residential properties and windfarms have spiked in recent weeks.

Police are calling for public vigilance after a spike in the number of rural property thefts and break-ins reported in the past three weeks in the Mid North.

Yorke Mid North Local Service Area police said they had a significant number of reports of theft and unlawful entry from primary producers and residents at Burra, Snowtown, Hornsdale and Wokurna and Saddleworth.

While a number of these reports have included the theft of machinery, tools, batteries and oil drums, reports of stock and diesel thefts have also increased dramatically.

In one incident at Saddleworth, 125 litres of diesel was siphoned from two tractors being stored in an open shed on a farming property.

Crime prevention officer Sergeant Mel Eason said that with seeding in full swing, producers and residents living in rural areas needed to take extra care to secure their valuables and fuel deposits.

“We are suggesting that farm machinery and family vehicles be locked away in sheds or at least kept out of sight from the roadway,” Sergeant Eason said.

Public help was crucial in prosecuting offenders, especially in the case of stock theft.

“Someone or some people must be driving around in a vehicle with the capability to cart stock,” she said.

“Sometimes we are talking a small number … but on other occasions, over time, we are seeing numbers into the hundreds being stolen from properties.

“Someone has to see these vehicles – if you don’t recognise a vehicle going into a paddock, ring police.

“If we don’t know, we can’t stop these offenders.”

Some incidents regarding unlawful access to wind farm sites have also been reported in the Mid North.

“Just because they look like a wind farm contractor does not necessarily mean they are one,” she said. 

“If something looks suspicious, call police and we will investigate it.”

She confirmed that despite numerous lines of enquiry, police were yet to apprehend the offenders. 

The Yorke Mid North Local Service Area sergeant said installing flood lighting, security cameras and being alert to the surroundings were all proactive ways to help prevent offences from being committed.