In early February 2020, police from the New England Rural Crime Prevention Team (RCPT) commenced an investigation as a result of ongoing complaints of illegal hunters trespassing on properties on the northern outskirts of Moree.
Information suggested that persons using quad bikes were cutting fences and trespassing on farms in order to hunt for pigs, as well as stealing items from these properties.
The first theft occurred in December 2019 when an electric boat motor and approximately $5000 worth of fishing gear was stolen from a property on the Gwydir Highway, Moree. The second incident occurred at the same property on February 6, 2020 when a set of spotlights were stolen off a tractor which was parked in a machinery shed.
On February 12, 2020 police from New England RCPT and Moree Detectives executed a search warrant at an address in Gwydirfield Road, Moree. Police located a quad bike, hunting gear including GPS trackers and dog collars, a set of spotlights, a boat motor, fishing equipment, a small amount of prescription medication and ammunition.
A 23-year-old female was arrested and taken to Moree Police Station where she was charged with 'Possess prescribed restricted substance'. She was granted conditional bail to appear at Moree Local Court on February 24, 2020.
A 29-year-old male was arrested and taken to Moree Police Station where he was charged with 'Enter enclosed agricultural land commit prescribed offence', 'Use unregistered motor vehicle on road', 'Unlicensed for class - first offence', 'Larceny', 'Possess ammunition without licence/authority' and 'Goods in custody suspected of being stolen'. He was granted conditional bail to appear at Moree Local Court on March 9, 2020.
On February 13, 2020, police executed a further search warrant at an address in Myora St, Moree. Police located and seized hunting gear including a GPS tracker and dog collar, and an unregistered .177 air rifle which police will allege was stored unsecured in an open shed. Police also seized a Honda quad bike.
A 26-year-old male was issued with a Future Court Attendance Notice for 'Enter enclosed agricultural land commit prescribed offence' x 2, 'Hunt on private property without consent' x 2, 'Use unregistered motor vehicle on road', 'Unlicensed for class - first offence', 'Larceny' and 'Not register companion animal'. He is due to appear at Moree Local Court on April 6, 2020.
A 45-year-old male was issued with a Future Court Attendance Notice for 'Possess unauthorised firearm', 'Possess unregistered firearm' and 'Not keep firearm safely'. He is due to appear at Moree Local Court on April 6, 2020.
RCPT North West Zone coordinator Detective Sergeant Bennett Nolan praised the efforts of both farmers and police involved.
"This is a result of local farmers reporting matters in a timely manner, with that information then able to be acted upon by police," Detective Sergeant Nolan said.
"The Rural Crime Prevention team, along with local police, will continue to do whatever we can to disrupt those who steal from farmers, damage property and trespass on rural properties."
He also warned illegal hunters that they can face serious consequences for their actions.
"Not only can offenders end up before the Courts, but we will seize vehicles and equipment wherever we can to stop further illegal hunting offences being committed."