Stock rustling is costing the farming community about $120 million a year, Federated Farmers says.
The theft of sheep, cattle and other stock is enraging farmers and has prompted Federated Farmers to urge them to report incidents of rustling, rural crime and growing of cannabis on farmland.
Federated Farmers rural security spokeswoman Katie Milne said the $120m cost of rustling was hurting the farming community.
“Rustling is underhanded as a stolen animal may have been specifically bred from a line of genetics making it pretty much irreplaceable," Milne said.
"Aside from taking food off any farmers' table, if the animal is part of a farm's capital breeding stock, it becomes a double kick in the guts."
Farmers were encountering the perfect rural crime storm at this time of the year, she said.
"Illicit cannabis growers are at work, the rustlers are hitting farms and we expect equipment and even fuel theft. I have no doubt in some cases the three are interrelated.
"When you are dealing in the black economy the norms of good behaviour go out the window while a nasty self-interest creeps on in."
Cannabis growers focus illegal plantings among crops in back-country areas, which can mask plantations from all but the air. They use cultivated land because it provides the best environment for their crops.
Police are working with farmers and other groups to report stock thefts anonymously. This will help them build up intelligence on when and where thefts take place and what stock is taken.
Milne said farmers can make a difference by reporting all crimes to the police.
''We can help the police by being its local eyes and ears," she said.
"If you or your staff see something that does not look right then please take down the vehicle registration number and if possible, a description of the occupants."
Farmers can provide information anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or call 111 if they feel lives are at risk.
- © Fairfax NZ News