Tips on preventing livestock theft

Lt. Col Johan Scott, commander: Stock Theft Unit Vereeniging, gives producers the following safety hints on how to prevent livestock theft:
Livestock owners should keep all fences and gates in proper condition to protect their livestock. The employment of a specially-trained employee can be considered for daily fence patrolling. This person can see to it that holes in and under fences are repaired at once. Inspect these reparations yourself.
Loading ramps in paddocks or on farms away from direct supervision should be kept locked or obstructed at all times.
If you consider buying an additional farm, remember: “absentee landlords gather no crops”. Rather try and buy close to your residential farm.
Prevent stolen animals from being hidden on your property. Stock posts serve as ideal overnight stopovers to hide stolen livestock. Unknown livestock found at such posts should immediately be reported to the SAPS.
Livestock at stock posts should be counted by the livestock owner him/herself, at least once a week.
If employees at stock posts possess their own animals, a good preventative measure against stock theft (if involvement of employees is suspected) is to allow the animals to mix and graze together.
Many court cases are lost because of disputes regarding the proper identification of animals. If an animal is marked with a registered brandmark or tattoo, disputes will be avoided. Employees should mark their livestock properly, according to the Animal Identification Act, 2002 (Act No. 6 of 2002), preferably by branding them.
Be particularly watchful during full moon, weekends and at the end or beginning of a month or during periods that you know from your own experience, when stock thefts (slaughtering for the pot) occur. Report unknown animals among your animals immediately to the SAPS and your neighbours. Livestock owners should at all times report al livestock theft cases on their property immediately. The longer the delay, the less the possibility of achieving success in an investigation.
The regular herding and counting of animals are of obvious importance. Also check up upon your employees’ livestock. If it is not possible to count your livestock everyday, try counting your animals at least twice a week on irregular days. Avoid any routine, especially at stock posts, as your employees may be informers to stock thieves. Shortages and signs indicating possible thefts should immediately be reported. The livestock owner must count the animals him/herself and cannot leave it to his/her employees to do the counting or to lodge any complaints.
When considering applicants for employment, enquiries should be made at previous employers to establish the real reason why an employee had left his previous job. Enquiries should also be lodged at the SAPS to determine whether the applicant has a criminal record. Establish what kind of criminal record the applicant has. Employees should be trained to pay attention to irregularities. Ask your employees to be careful about what they say in the presence of strangers regarding activities on the farm. Careless talk can lead to livestock losses.
Report immediately to your stock theft unit when animal speculators and hide bone buyers or livestock dealers from neighbouring countries are active in your area. Keep proper record of all prospective livestock buyers as soon as you enter negotiations.
The necessity of a thorough stock register cannot be emphasised enough. Commit to paper as much details as possible and keep the register up to date yourself.
Do not allow loitering on the farm or any idle and unemployed people to settle on your property. Strangers entering the farm or visiting labourers should first obtain your permission – implement a visitors control system, wherein all particulars of visitors to the farm are noted, whom they’re visiting and when they’re leaving.
It often happens that stock theft cases have to be withdrawn due to a lack of interest or reluctance shown by some complainants to attend court proceedings. Show interest and attend all court cases.
Cooperate with the local SAPS and stock theft unit and do not work against them. Support them in their efforts to help you.