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Seed theft a growing crime in Free State

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It seems as if there is an emerging trend in the Free State, where large quantities of seed are stolen.

Dr Jane Buys, safety risk analyst from Free State Agriculture (FSA), mentions that three incidents took place last week in Bothaville, Reitz and Fouriesburg respectively. An arrest in the case that took place in Bothaville was carried out in Reitz.

“We have already warned farming communities to be careful and prepared in order to pick up suspicious movement, especially in relation to suspicious vehicles and people on farms. Large quantities of seed are stolen at one time and must therefore be transported to a sales area/market with a small truck or a van with a cart, given the amount of seed that is stolen at one time.” Buys adds that it is not just one or five bags, “but hundreds of bags of seed that are stolen at once, the value of which amounts to thousands of rands.”

In the Steynsrus case that took place in August, millions of rands worth of seed were stolen.

“Once such large losses occur, and where more than one vehicle is involved, it is related to organized crime. It would therefore seem as if there are also a variety of criminals involved in this, e.g. a driver of a vehicle, carriers of the seed, etc.” Buys said.

Jakkals le Roux, Chairman of FSA’s Rural Safety Committee, mentions that at this stage it seems as if other areas in the Northern Free State are also being targeted and that a group is operating across provincial borders. He says that the crimes may even be related to other crimes that are currently being investigated.

Free State Agriculture encourages farmers and agricultural communities to report all cases to the police, so that a trend or pattern can be determined. Reporting contributes to the fact that cases/incidents in relation to modus operandi can potentially be connected to each other and other crimes (linkage analysis), and that when a trend/pattern is determined the OCTA (Organized Crime Threat Analysis) process can be put into action for effective investigation of the crime in a certain area.

Le Roux adds that it is also important that farmers and agricultural communities must ensure that their workers or new workers who are employed are subjected to a security screening process to ensure that they do not have or employ criminals in their midst who may be involved in crime. Furthermore, it is also essential to gather information from workers about possible suspicious movement in an area, after which the information must be handed over to the police.