New England police promise more operations to target rural crime after blitz near Glen Innes, Tenterfield

File photo.
File photo.

REPORTS of rural crime might be on the decline in the New England but a two-day blitz is one of the first of many aiming to keep offenders on notice, police say.

The operation, involving a team of police from across the New England, targeted trespassers, illegal hunters and would-be stock thieves, but made no arrests.

Police said officers stopped and searched vehicles, patrolled rural and back roads and also conducted inspections of stock and properties.

Rocky River, Torrington, Glen Innes, Nullamanna, Bonshaw, Emmaville and Mingoola were the main areas targeted in the blitz this week because they’ve been hot spots in the past.

NSW crime figures show the Inverell, Tenterfield and Guyra areas had some of the worst rates of stock thefts to March, 2017. More than $2 million worth of stock and sheep have been stolen between January and May, this year, across NSW.

“One of the reasons we deployed those extra police resources out into that area is because, in the past, we have had incidents of stock theft reports and illegal hunting activity and trespassing,” New England Detective Inspector Ann Joy said.

“While we haven’t had recent reports of that illegal activity, that’s not to say that activity it not continuing.

“It was about us getting out into the field proactively and seeing what we could detect over the two days. 

“It’s also about us letting the community know that we are out there patrolling these remote locations.”

A review released in August highlighted the “deep sense of anger and frustration” surrounding rural crime in the bush, as well as perceived police inaction, along with concerns of lenient sentencing if the matter ends up in court.

Former NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Steve Bradshaw led the review into rural crime and made a host of recommendations to the NSW Government, which were adopted earlier this month, including initiatives to strengthen police powers and harsher penalties in court. Detective Inspector Joy said locals should continue to report stock theft or unusual movements of stock.

“Stock owners can assist police by recording and conducting regular counts of stock, and reporting matters as soon as possible as delays can affect the success of the investigations,” she said.     

“Information relating to stock thefts, unusual movements of stock particularly at night, or any other information relating to suspicious behaviour in rural areas, we would urge landholders to contact local police.”