[17 July/Stuff]

Wairarapa farmers are becoming increasingly angered by rustlers stealing sheep, and say it is becoming noticeable in hurting their bottom lines. Gladstone sheep and beef farmer, Andrew Rayner, has had so many thefts that he now avoids putting stock in roadside paddocks. Farmers estimate that incidents are occurring about once a fortnight and often shine their spotlight at vehicles stopped by the road at night. Mr Rayner said their neighbour lost two thirds of their lambs last year. Federated Farmers Wairarapa President, William Beetham, believed police should be doing more to investigate thefts due to the amount of money involved. He noted that on one occasion he had a whole paddock of sheep loaded up and taken in the middle of the night. Federated Farmers National Meat and Wool Chairman, Miles Anderson, added that if thieves faced stricter penalties, it would prevent them from stealing. Community Sergeant, Ian Osland, said stock theft was a serious issue.