'Bush telegraph' an effective method in solving crime
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  • Annie Lewis

'Bush telegraph' an effective method in solving crime


A man has been charged by NSW Police Rural Crime Investigators over an alleged scam targeting farmers from drought-stricken communities across NSW.

Rural crimes can be some of the toughest to solve, but specialised investigators in the Oxley Police District continue to crack down on illegal activity.


Detective Sergeant Bennett Nolan, the Rural Crime Force's North West Zone coordinator, said there is a wide range of rural crimes that occur in the Oxley Police District.


Detective Sergeant Bennett Nolan, the Rural Crime Force's North West Zone coordinator, said there is a wide range of rural crimes that occur in Tamworth and the surrounding regions.


"We see illegal trespass, illegal hunting incidents but also property theft, fuel theft, machinery and equipment theft," he said.


"Then there is the livestock theft that we see all around the state."


Detective Sergeant Nolan said there are a few initiatives in the Oxley Police District to combat these incidents.


"We kicked off operation, Tarzan 2020 which is a proactive operation targeting illegal hunting and trespass around the Barraba and Manilla areas and down into Gunnedah as well," he said.


"That involves police rostering shifts generally in the afternoon or night to focus on those particular issues.


"We do also have a member of the rural prevention team that undertake operations fairly frequently down there."


In recent years, crime prevention officers have been running workshops in the region to train the local police.


"We teach them how to investigate rural crime and the things they need to look," Detective Sergeant Nolan said.


"We do this because we find that a lot of police will transfer from the city and not have much of an idea about targeting these types of issues.


"So that does help in upskilling them."


Detective Sergeant Nolan said one of the biggest challenges they face is the lack of reporting or of timely reporting.


He added that often people in rural communities are reluctant to report these sorts of matters until weeks or months after it happened, thinking that they need to have all the information on hand first.


"Which then makes our job a bit more difficult in that we are trying to chase an old trail and look into things that may have happened months ago," he said.


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"The most important message out of that would be if you know something has been stolen or if you suspect something has been taken then report it straight away.


"You don't have to have all the information straight away. We can start an investigation and get those more accurate details from you later on."


A second challenge that the rural crime team has to overcome is a result of the geographical spread in regional areas.


"There are the difficulties we face with our investigations in that we don't have that number of witnesses and CCTV and those sort of things that you would traditionally have for crimes that we see in the town or the city," Detective Sergeant Nolan said.


"But, as far as police response goes, we do have police all around the state at hundreds of police stations that are trained in investigating rural crime, and although many of those stations are not 24-hour stations, we do have fairly wide-spread coverage around the state."


Detective Sergeant Nolan said that often their best method of solving things in the bush is the "bush telegraph".


"We rely on people providing us with information," he said.


"It doesn't mean you need to necessarily come forward and provide a police statement to use it.


"It could just be calling Crime stoppers on 1800 333 000 and just giving them that little bit of information which can help put the pieces together when we are trying to investigate something down the track."

LOCAL News

with Annie Lewis

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