Crime spree targets Rochester farmers

Residents outside Rochester are increasingly fed up with what they say is a “phenomenal” spate of burglaries which has escalated into daily thefts within the past month.

Timmering hobby farmer Maree Traill said the thefts had increased during the past six months to the point where local farmers had formed a community action group which held its first meeting this week.

“There was probably 40 or so people there and I just said ‘Put up your hand who has been done over’ and they were the majority,” she said.

Ms Traill said the “brazen” thieves had already taken about $10,000 worth of property from a single one of her neighbours during the crime spree.

“They had their front gate padlocked and chained and they just cut off the lock and cut all the locks into the shed and took a motorbike, generator, extension ladder, power tools, as much as they could take,” she said.

“They actually had a trailer there so they emptied all of their farm rubbish out of it and put more stuff in and stole the trailer as well.”

Ms Traill said locals believed the crime wave was the work of a small group of repeat offenders, but police were powerless to act due to under-resourcing at nearby police stations.

“[The police officer at Rochester] will turn up to work and there’s already five messages on the answering machine about this sort of stuff so he’s got to chase that up and then he gets more, they’re just overrun,” she said.

“Echuca’s flat out dealing with all the [issues] in town so they don’t even dispatch vehicles from Echuca.”

Ms Traill said the area was home to a number of dairy farmers already struggling with cuts to farm gate milk prices who could little afford the loss and extra cost of securing their properties.

“Now they’re having to outlay even more money they don’t have for security they shouldn’t need,” she said.

“We’re all tightening up our security but that doesn’t seem to worry them, they just cut locks and break locks.”