Farmers in the Mid North are currently experiencing a stock theft epidemic with a staggering number of stolen sheep being reported to police in recent weeks.
Over the past three weeks, Mid North police have received reports of 460 sheep being stolen from properties, with some farmers even believing that stock has been disappearing for the past six months.
Reports have come from farmers in Foul Bay, Yacka, Spalding, Laura and Wilmington, with Yacka and Wilmington the areas hit hardest.
Between April and July 109 Merino ewes have been stolen from properties in Yacka, while 300 merino ewes have been stolen from a property in Wilmington on a consistent basis since the end of February.
Agricultural liaison officer Paul Bruggemann said that the current price for wool had likely played a factor in the thefts.
“The price of wool is at an all-time high,” he said.
“It has never ever been better in the history of Australian wool, wool prices are at their most buoyant.
“The temptation to steal wool and/or sheep is greater now than it ever has been.”
Prices of lamb and mutton are also likely reasons.
In SA, sheep are the most commonly stolen stock because it is easier to muster sheep compared to cattle.
Officer Bruggemann said it was likely the thefts were being conducted by people from within the industry, or by people who have previous knowledge of the industry.
Last financial year the impact of stock theft was felt throughout the livestock industry in SA with losses estimated at close to $1 million.
South Australian Police launched Operation Poach in 2011 to help combat the issue, which has seen a general decline in reported theft since the task force was established.
The punishment for livestock is no different to theft of any other kind.
Fines can range from under $2500 and upwards of $30,000 depending on how valuable the stock is deemed to be.
With the current price of wool, a trailer full of wool would be deemed to be a serious enough offence to go before a jury and a judge in court.
Police urge farmers to reports any incidents of theft as soon as possible.