COMMENT: Tougher sentences needed to tackle rural crime

THE feeling of frustration could not be more amplified than if you follow the process of a rural crime charge right through the courts and then report on the outcome.

Rural crime is rampant. And unfortunately the crooks are getting sophisticated. Whether it's stealing livestock, casing places out with drones or cameras, or playing the role of "peeping Tom" to support an animal activism cause it is all crime. All of these activities are breaking the law in some shape or form.

But more importantly these behaviours are putting the entire rural and regional community at risk. Families live on these properties.

Yes they are real people, they have children who attend the local school and the farm is a place of work but most importantly it is also their home.

The recent CWA conference in Albury provided yet another platform to highlight how frustrated people in rural communities are with what appears to be escalating rural crime with little promise of a penalty.

The Eurongilly branch (via Junee) raised the rural crime motion alongside a related motion, put forward by both Eurongilly and Hornsby branches, to advocate for more legislation to protect people's privacy from drones.

Secretary of the Eurongilly branch, Helen Sheridan said rural crime was becoming more prevalent and everyone was getting frustrated.

The use of drones has been a concern for southern NSW and Riverina landholders for some time. In fact, The Rural has reported on drone sightings and the possible links to rural crime.

However, the case this week involving a camera located in PVC pipe to overlook a lamb feedlot is alarming too. This incident is now in the hands of police and the investigation is ongoing but it does paint a picture as to what lengths people go to when implementing surveillance.

Kudos must go to those in the rural community who are on the front foot in tackling rural crime. Facebook pages and email groups are helping to raise awareness.

The Junee Shire Farm Watch Facebook Page has 774 followers.