By Michael Giles

LET that be a warning to all you would-be farm thieves!
Our local rural properties should be completely off-limits to all criminals and it’s high time the dark-side living in this area realised that.
The sentiment in the community runs very strongly in the farmers’ favour in this regard because we all appreciate that they necessarily have to live in fairly isolated locations where they are personally vulnerable to property invasion and theft.
There are no close neighbours to turn to for refuge and the police aren’t an immediate option for protection.
And you couldn’t imagine how a brush with the criminal element, coming on to their properties to steal fuel, equipment, cars, guns or anything they can get their hands on, affects the rural victims of this activity.
Which is why there was absolutely no sympathy whatsoever for the ‘alleged’ offenders who were chewed by the police dogs on capture last week after causing the police and the local farming community such grief.
It makes you wonder if there might not be an appetite in the community now for corporal punishment.
These people have shown scant regard for court orders, the police and going to prison… but they won’t forget getting chewed by those dogs in a hurry! And if the police didn’t call the dogs off straight away, no one’s complaining.
They knew the police were unable to pursue them at high speed and even, reportedly, taunted police about that situation.
They rammed private vehicles when getting away, stole cars and other equipment at will and generally caused havoc for weeks, apparently driven by the ice scourge that’s clogging our courts with associated crime at the moment.
In the end, the police did the right thing not pursuing these idiots at high speed through our towns because nothing is worth the loss of innocent life.
So, while it took time and the toll on local victims did continue, at least no one died.
What needs to happen now is that the alleged offenders are processed quickly through the courts and that they don’t get bail until this matter is resolved.
Politicians should also take note.
There’s a case now, especially with criminal activity in farming areas on the rise due to the drug ice, for a specific set of laws and penalties to be introduced to deter criminals from entering farming properties to commit offences.
As a community, we need our farmers – the people providing our food and fibre – to be able to go about their work with an appropriate level of protection.
We might not have to go to the extent of public floggings but you have to wonder if that’s the only sort of penalty these people might fear.