The latest figures from the Crime Statistics Agency showing a 12.6 per cent rise in livestock theft the year to December 2021 has prompted Crime Stoppers Victoria to launch a campaign urging farmers to improve security on their properties.
The Shut Out Farm Crime campaign will work with Victoria Police to focus on encouraging the installation of CCTV cameras and more reporting of crime that happens on property.
Along with the rise in livestock theft, the value of diesel fuel stolen has jumped 20 per cent across Victoria.
Sheep farmer Daniel Buckingham, Warrak, said he was concerned in the rise of fuel theft on properties, given the surging cost.
Mr Buckingham said thieves could often steal fuel on a property without the victim realising that a crime was committed.
"When someone's taken 30 or 60 litres out of a 400-litre tank you're probably not going to take too much notice of it," he said.
"I think it's going to be an increasing problem."
Victoria Police's Farm Crime Coordination Unit Inspector Karl Curran said rises in crime recorded in the farming and rural sectors had him concerned.
He said there was more willingness to report crime on farming properties to police over the years.
"These campaigns have highlighted the historical underreporting issues we have within the sector,'' he said.
"We are encouraged there appears to be more confidence in reporting farm crime to Victoria Police."
Free farmgate security signs, and stickers displaying information about how to report information will be offered to farmers at agricultural events across the state in upcoming months.
"The farmgate signs we have provided have proved incredibly popular and we're pleased to be able to offer even more free to farmers as well as new warning stickers through our partnership with Crime Stoppers,'' he said.
He said the Crime Statistics Agency data reinforced the need for rural communities to remain vigilant, and simple tasks like tagging livestock, and locking gates and sheds could do a lot to prevent theft.
"We will work with the community to address their concerns and meet their expectations by fully investigating all crimes that are reported to us,'' he said.
"The more information and reports we receive, the more we are able to identify crime trends and put resources into these areas.
"As I have often said, we cannot investigate what we do not know."
The University of New England Centre for Rural Criminology co-director Alistair Harkness said non-reporting affected resourcing decisions made by authorities.
"If the reality of farm crime is not known, then appropriate attention cannot be paid at either local or state-wide levels," Dr Harkness said.
Crime Stoppers Victoria chief executive Stella Smith said rural communities should feel confident that any information they shared would remain secure.
"Farmers do an amazing job," Ms Smith said.
"They cope with floods, drought, and all sorts of other things.
"They shouldn't have to put up with thieves as well.
She said farmers can control how much information they give to Crime Stoppers when reporting crime.
"You decide whether you want to say who you are, you decide how much information you share," she said.
Anyone with information about farm crime can make an anonymous report to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppersvic.com.au.