The police and Crimestoppers are teaming up with the NZX's agri business unit to tackle stock thefts using a new website that's being called a world first.
The idea behind the website (agrihq.co.nz/home/livestock-theft) is to get people to anonymously report suspected stock thefts, which are believed to cost the rural economy up to $120 million a year in lost income.
The information is then aggregated using an online mapping platform, giving police and the rural community a clearer picture of where the rustling hotspots are.
Crimestoppers chief executive Jude Mannion says it's the first use of internet technology to paint a clearer picture of rural rustling that she can find. She hopes it will go a long way to remedying a vastly under-reported crime.
"It might be a small, maybe a dozen head of cattle from my farm, but what I don't know is that four farms down the road they've also had a dozen cattle stolen, and another dozen stolen even further down the road," she said.
Mannion stressed the ability to anonymously report stock thefts was vital because while people may be aware of the crime - which in some cases involves large logistical operations - they did not want to report it for fear of personal repercussions.
She added that it was also likely to encourage reporting by farmers who previously might not have done so through official channels because they were not insured for their stock losses.
The online application has received the thumbs up from Federated Farmers, with the agri-lobby calling stock rustling a "low blow" for farmers who are already struggling with tough market conditions and a high currency.
The police, meanwhile, hope the crime map will be a deterrent.
- © Fairfax NZ News