LIVESTOCK thefts have reached a five-year high across the state.
Victoria Police figures show that the highest number of thefts occurred in Western Victoria.
Of the thefts reported to police across the state, almost 70 per cent occurred in the Western Victorian region.
Livestock thefts in Western Victoria increased from 98 between April 2016 and April 2017, to 154 in the period between April 2017 and March 2018.
Grain Producers Australia chairman Andrew Weidemann said stolen livestock was an ongoing issue for farmers.
“Theft is something we have always had to deal with,” he said.
“There’s always livestock disappearing – particularly when there are higher prices.
“Value is the reason.
“It’s the nature of the industry.
“It’s a factor of supply and demand.”
On Tuesday, extra heavy lambs sold for $300.60 at Forbes, NSW which set a new record.
“The sheep industry is doing well,” Mr Weidemann said.
“Even wool is being stolen.”
In early July, a report of 28 lambs going missing from a property on Vinyard Road, Concongella was reported to police.
The suffolk lambs were five weeks old.
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St Arnaud Sergeant Bill Alford said police were also investigating after sheep went missing from properties at Stawell and Ararat.
Across Victoria, the cost of livestock thefts between April 2017 and March 2018 have reached $1,744,686, police data shows.
Sergeant Alford urged anyone who suspected their livestock had been stolen to report it to police and to remain vigilant.
“Know who your neighbour is and look out for each other,” he said.
“Let each other know if anything suspicious has occurred.”
Sergeant Alford said if farmers saw a suspicious vehicle near their property, they should take note of the vehicle’s registration and details.
“That is invaluable to police,” he said.
Sergeant Alford said some farmers used ear tagging to keep track of sheep.
“People can cut it off their ear and remove the tags,” he said.
“The farming industry is looking at microchipping, but it is expensive.”