A border police officer at a farm.
(photo credit: ISRAEL BORDER POLICE SPOKESMAN)
Agriculture-related crime events dropped 14 percent from 2013 to 2014, with cattle and sheep thievery plummeting most significantly, the Border Police reported Sunday.
While Israel experienced an even greater, 22% drop in agricultural crime incidents from 2012 to 2013, the Border Police praised the 14% drop as an “impressive decrease,” in line with the continued decline that has occurred in recent years. Particularly remarkable, the unit stressed, was the reduction in cattle and sheep burglaries.
In comparison to 2013, 2014 showed a 39% drop in the number of cattle- and sheep-stealing incidents, falling from 256 to 157 events. The number of individual cattle and sheep stolen fell an even more dramatic 50%, with only 1,688 animals nabbed in 2014 as opposed to 3,408 in 2013.
As far as agricultural equipment theft is concerned, only 292 incidents occurred in 2014, a 10% decline from the 324 events of 2013, the Border Police said.
Stealing of agricultural products marginally decreased between 2013 and 2014, with 179 events occurring two years ago and 178 last year.
Nonetheless, property damage incidents rose 11% between 2013 and 2014, from 147 events to 164, the security branch reported.
Despite the drop in agriculture- related theft from 2013 to 2014, 97 indictments were filed in 2014 against gangs and others who committed crimes in the sector – almost the same number of indictments filed in 2013.
The Border Police attributed this rising percentage of indictments to the increased willingness of farmers to report violations.
Although agricultural crime is typically mostly in rural areas of the country, territorially, such areas make up about 85% of the country’s lands, according to the law enforcement unit. Meanwhile, criminal gangs are using increasingly sophisticated techniques to commit their offenses, so the authorities must constantly learn these new operational systems and adjust their responses as necessary, it said.
In 2014, the Border Police opened up the first police station of its kind – a station in Mateh Yehuda Regional Council made up entirely of border policemen focusing on the rural sector.
Prevention and deterrence of agricultural crimes occurs in collaboration with other organizations, such as the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, the Israel Electric Corporation and plant and animal control units, the statement added.
“We implemented a comprehensive reform dealing with this crime, while investing all the resources at our disposal and increasing the presence of patrols within the communities themselves,” said Border Police head Asst.-Ch. Amos Yaakov.
“The continued decline in the extent of agricultural crime as well as the increase in the percent of civil reporting, testifies to the effectiveness of the response and the increase in the sense of security of the law-abiding citizen.”
Yaakov pledged that tackling agricultural crimes would remain a central target of the Border Police, which will be boosting its manpower and technological capabilities, in conjunction with the Public Security Ministry.
Doing so, he added, will “strengthen the relationship with farmers and grant citizens optimal police services.”