The newly minted Crimes Amendment Act has introduced two new offences aimed at addressing cattle rustling. The legislation came into force on 12 March 2019.
Federated Farmers has estimated that livestock thefts cost the farming community more than $120 million every year. Cattle rustling also causes biosecurity concerns associated with the movement of stock as well as the safety of farmers as firearms and other weapons are often involved with this kind of offending.
It is now a crime, punishable by up to seven years in prison, to steal livestock or any other animal (such as beehives and farm dogs). As well as theft, the unlawful entry onto land that is farmed – with the intention to steal livestock or to commit any other crime – is now an offence liable for up to 10 years' imprisonment.
It is hoped that making the punishment more severe for these offences will deter prospective offenders and give a greater incentive for both farmers and police to pursue prosecution. It will now be important for the authorities to have the resources available to detect and respond to cattle rustling activities.
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