Farmers are being encouraged to embrace the 'bush telegraph' and speak out about what's happening around their properties, as small communities grapple with the harm caused by rural crime.
Crime on farms is placed under the spotlight in Crime Stoppers Victoria's new two-part podcast series, in an appeal for farm owners to reassess their attitude towards safety and crime prevention in local communities.
Bruce Crafter has spent more than 40 years farming and manages over 1300 hectares north of Horsham, spanning towards Warracknabeal.
He didn't realise he was a victim of rural crime until a timely conversation with his neighbour.
"We got burgled twice in two days," he detailed in the Rural Crimes - Intentions, Prevention and Detection podcast.
"Only a month ago, my partner on the farm went out to hop on the tractor, and he couldn't find the keys. We just thought he put them somewhere he shouldn't of. We had to go buy a new set of keys for the tractor.
"I was speaking to a neighbour, and he'd been burgled that night. They had a JCB (tractor) - the keys were in it because the truckie was going to load next morning - and the truckie got there are there were no keys.
"It wasn't till then that we realised someone had nicked the keys.
"The next day, we had a ute up there, and there were only two packets of BBQ Shapes and about $5 in change, and they'd smashed a window to get in there."
Mr Crafter explained many tractors share the same key, and his stolen set was allegedly used to take $3000-4000 worth of property from someone else's tractor.
Sam Eagle said his biggest issue was tackling trespassing on his property, 10 minutes south of Horsham.
"Our main problem probably isn't physical theft. We've got a lot of trespassing issues. We are very close to town and long weekends or any weekends we get a lot of people coming out of town. Lots of gates left open to roads, lots of internal gates left open. (It is) mostly spotlighting I think, just (people) driving around, hooning around, shooting stuff they shouldn't shoot," he said in the podcast.
The pair spoke of the security systems they had since installed to act as deterrents and potentially assist police investigations.
Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke said sharing information was the 'backbone' of rural crime being solved.
"I think the podcast highlights the fact that the bush telegraph that farmers talk to each other is actually an important tool in collecting evidence but then also giving that information to police once it's been identified that there's something going on or that there is something suspicious in the area," he said.
"As farmers, it's our responsibility to reduce our risk, but if things are occurring, it's best to speak up, let our neighbours know it's occurring and speak to the police.
"Anybody seeing something that is a bit odd, a bit out of the ordinary or something that doesn't feel right, if you feel you have the ability to, gather some information, gather some details and ring Crime Stoppers or the police in case of an emergency, you've got to share the information for it to be useful."
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