NOT ON: Atkinson Dam farmer Dale Burns says his sprinkler heads are among the items stolen.
NOT ON: Atkinson Dam farmer Dale Burns says his sprinkler heads are among the items stolen. Dominic Elsome

Struggling farmers face new challenge battling crime

A SERIES of brazen thefts has left farmers thousands of dollars out of pocket as producers report an increase in crimes targeting farms.

Atkinson Dam farmer Dale Burns said thieves had taken 80 of his sprinkler heads, which would cost about $3600 to replace.

"It took us a little while to even realise,” Mr Burns said.

"The sprayers were all set up ready to go and it's not until you go to water that you realise they're missing.”

Mr Burns relies heavily on spray-line irrigators to grow corn, green beans, grain and peanuts on his 243ha.

But the property was raided more than once. After Mr Burns noticed the first theft, thieves returned to steal more sprinkler heads.

Many of the sprinkler heads had been installed more than a decade ago and would require significant effort to remove.

Mr Burns said this showed the thieves must have spent a significant amount of time at the farm.

The Atkinson Dam farm was not the only one targeted, with farms in Lockrose and Mt Tarampa also hit.

"I know there's a farm at Lockrose - they had about 300 go missing,” Mr Burns said.

He said thefts from farms had increased in recent years, with rising costs of living making farms prime targets for criminals, despite farmers facing the same pressures.

"We're in the same boat as them - the profit margin in farming isn't like it used to be,” he said.

"The worst part is, they don't realise how hard it is to try and have a go at something. They've got nothing better to do than to go around and make our life harder.”

Mr Burns said he and other farmers were now considering replacing their sprinkler heads with plastic rather than brass fittings to reduce the incentive for thieves.

But that would come at a cost as the plastic heads were not as durable as brass fittings.

"It's something we shouldn't have to do, but it's something that we've got to do,” Mr Burns said.