Article by: Hari Yellina
Robbery of 36,000 litres of fluid fertiliser from a rural farm near Toodyay is being investigated by police in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt. Last week, a landowner in Wattening sought to fill a machine only to discover that more than half of their Flexi-N tank had vanished. Witnesses to any strange behaviour in the Wattening region since the tank was filled in October last year have been sought by police. Toodyay Senior Constable Kevan French said the theft was unique and deliberate, but he didn’t know how it happened. “A state-wide search has only turned up one such occurrence in Moora [approximately 100 kilometres north-west of Wattening], when 40,000 litres of liquid fertiliser were stolen in April last year,” he said.
Fertilizer prices have climbed to new highs in the last year due to limited supply from China and global uncertainty caused by the Ukraine crisis. On farms, product is frequently stockpiled in huge amounts and left unattended, authorities added, making them easy targets. Farmers should lock up storage tanks and keep a look out for unusual activity, according to Senior Constable French. “There will be a lot of trucks around now that seeding is ramping up,” he said, “but if it’s a truck or a vehicle you don’t recognise, please contact police.” Tony Seabrook, president of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association and a York farmer, described farmers as “sitting ducks” who were exposed to theft from their homes, barns, and paddocks.
“The vast majority of farmers are bloody good men and women,” he continued. “They’re good people,” he continued, “so it’s a pretty low act when someone who is clearly farming or has a use for that commodity just goes and steals someone’s property.” “This is a filthy act.” Mr Seabrook believes that the introduction of portable battery-powered cutting tools has rendered padlocks obsolete. He said that security cameras were installed on many properties, including his. “Every farmer should think about it,” he says. “I don’t think the cops will be able to do anything about it. “Individual awareness, cameras, having personnel on the premises, and being cautious are all factors to consider. “It falls back on the property owners more than the police.”