A CENTRAL Victorian farmer says a dedicated rural crime unit is long overdue, after losing thousands of dollars worth of stock to theft each year.
Police and government announced a Farm Crime Coordination Unit on Monday, with more than 70 new staff.
Charlton farmer Adam Soulsby said his gut feeling was that rural theft was becoming worse, as stock became more valuable.
Read more: New police unit will target farm crime
Mr Soulsby said Victoria Police's existing agricultural liaison officers were great, but needed the time to do that work on top of normal duties.
He said he had not lost stock for 12 months, but for the past five years about $5000 worth of his stock was stolen each year.
Mr Soulsby said farm theft was a difficult thing to prove, taking time and energy to pin down.
He said anything that highlighted rural crime was a good thing.
"All farmers work a hell of a lot of hours. You spend a lot of time away from your families to do the work, and when someone comes along and takes the cream off the top for you, it's not very nice," Mr Soulsby said.
"I can put up with all the droughts and poor seasons, but when someone comes along and steals something off you..."
Read more: Farm thefts continue to rise
The new unit will be staffed by farm crime liaison officers, who were formerly known as agricultural liaison officers.
A dedicated inspector will oversee the unit. Farm crime liaison officers will also have other policing duties.
All farmers work a hell of a lot of hours. You spend a lot of time away from your families to do the work, and when someone comes along and takes the cream off the top for you, it's not very nice.Adam Soulsby
Victorian Farmers Federation livestock group chair Leonard Vallance said the unit needed funds to support country cops with the resources to fight farm crime.
"These people cannot be expected to work for free, as they do now, they work in their own time basically," Mr Vallance said.
"The country cops have got to have the equipment, the time the resources, to set up string and operations that can catch these crooks."
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