MP expects cattle rustling bill to get support from all parts of Parliament

Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie expects his bill, proposing tougher penalties for cattle rustlers, to get support.
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie expects his bill, proposing tougher penalties for cattle rustlers, to get support.

The man behind a proposal designed to deter people from cattle rustling says he hopes the final law goes further to include other rural crimes.

Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie had his member's bill proposing the law change pulled from the Parliamentary ballot recently.

The Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill proposes making stock theft an aggravating feature when thieves are sentenced in court.

McKelvie said stock rustling was a big issue for farmers, especially those in remote areas of the country.

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"When it happens in those areas it can be quite intimidating, as [thieves] are often using guns."

A farmer himself, he had not been a victim of stock theft, but knew many people who had.

"It's something we need to halt.

"[The bill] is about giving the police a more vigorous tool and take more action in the event of stock rustling being reported."

McKelvie said he expected the bill to get past its first reading.

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"I never talk to anyone who does not think this is a good idea. Across the house the response is quite positive."

Some people he had talked to wanted the bill to encompass more rural crimes, something McKelvie said could be thrashed out as it went through the legislative process.

Federated Farmers rural security spokesman Rick Powdrell said rustling cost farmers more than $120 million a year.

"The successful passing of this bill would show the victims of livestock rustling that the justice system is prepared to take these crimes seriously," he said.

"It's frightening when you are faced with someone in a remote rural area who is most likely armed."

Federated Farmers wanted to see rustlers have the potential to lose the vehicles and equipment used in the crime, just like what happens in fisheries, he said.

Figures from a survey Federated Farmers did of more than 1000 farmers showed 26 per cent had had stock stolen in the past five years, but almost 60 per cent of stock thefts had not been reported to police.

Powdrell said McKelvie's bill paired well with increased police numbers, which he hoped would see more police in rural areas.

Manawatu has not been immune to rustling in the past.

One infamous case involved a group butchering a group of ewes, many of them pregnant, before taking the carcasses from an Eketahuna property in 2014.

Holly Louise Marlow organised for three men to slaughter the sheep and made arrangements to sell the carcasses to another woman, who then onsold the meat.

She was sentenced to 140 hours' community work and two months' community detention for the crime.

There have also been large-scale thefts, including the disappearance of 500 cows worth $2 million from an Ashburton farm in 2016.

However, most rustling cases reported by Stuff involve dozens of thefts.

 - Stuff

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