Thursday, December 8, 2022

Farmers team up with cops to combat oyster theft

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NSW Farmers, Media Release, 14 February 2022

The state’s peak agricultural body has partnered with the NSW Police Force to tackle a major problem for oyster growers.

Oyster
Photo: NSW Farmers

Black market oysters – stolen from farmers and sold without food safety controls – are the target of the NSW Police Force, Rural Crime Prevention Team.

NSW Farmers Oyster Committee Chair Todd Graham said theft and damage to oyster leases were a significant problem for growers, but the community needed to be aware too.

“We put in a lot of time, money and effort to grow top-notch oysters for people to enjoy, and it’s tough to find your baskets have been stolen by crooks who only care about a quick dollar,” Mr Graham said.

“There are strict controls on food safety with oysters and you can be sure that when you buy them from a reputable seller, they’re safe to eat, but that’s not the case with the black market.

“You don’t know where they’re from or if they’ve been stored in the right way, so it’s costly for us and can be costly for the consumer too.”

Acting Detective Sergeant Travis Ware, Northern Zone, Rural Crime Prevention Team said the NSW Police Force was supporting a multi-agency operation – Operation Trident – in an effort to detect and investigate the illegal harvesting of oysters.

“While Operation Trident is not a new concept for the NSW Police Force, it has been revamped to cater to a growing need in the industry,” Acting Det Sgt Travis said.

“The Rural Crime Prevention Team relaunched the campaign towards the end of last year after communication with NSW Farmers.

“Working with our agency partners, the Rural Crime Prevention Team look at target hardening strategies with the growers themselves, as well as other opportunities that allow us to actively promote the consequences of this crime.”

Mr Graham said the best thing people could do if they found out about someone stealing oysters or selling them on the black market was to report it to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

“This is a serious crime and there are serious fines and even imprisonment for those found guilty,” Mr Graham said.

“We all need to play our part in cracking down on this.”

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