Politics

Cattle rustler almost pulls off a $1.5m livestock heist in NT


Huge heist as thief ‘steals 435 cattle worth $1.5m’ – but cops nab suspect after ‘high-stakes’ investigation

  • Cattle rustler charged with an alleged $1.5m livestock heist in Northern Territory
  • A 71-year-old man is accused of stealing 435 cattle from station in Sturt Plateau
  • Lengthy investigation used DNA testing to identify offspring of missing cows 

A thief who allegedly stole 435 head of cattle almost pulled off a heifer of a heist worth $1.5million dollars, until an investigation brought him down.

The 71-year-old accused of the agricultural crime was arrested and charged on Wednesday after Northern Territory Police executed a search warrant on the man’s property.

A police operation to recover the animals got underway when a nearby station on the Sturt Plateau reported a large number of animals missing.

A rustler who allegedly stole 435 head of cattle almost pulled off a heifer of a heist worth $1.5million dollars, until a high-stakes investigation brought him down

A rustler who allegedly stole 435 head of cattle almost pulled off a heifer of a heist worth $1.5million dollars, until a high-stakes investigation brought him down

Detectives from Taskforce Starlight, set up to investigate livestock theft, the operation to recover the animals got underway when a nearby station on the Sturt Plateau in the NT (pictured) reported a large number of animals missing

Detectives from Taskforce Starlight, set up to investigate livestock theft, the operation to recover the animals got underway when a nearby station on the Sturt Plateau in the NT (pictured) reported a large number of animals missing

An attempt to recover the cows began on June 15, 2021 with a seven day muster of the property and nearby stations.

Investigators then came back on June 27 with a court order to search a farm for evidence of cattle sales hidden on electronic devices.

Specialist livestock agents also compared the DNA of the weaners on the station with the original stolen cattle. Weaners are young cattle that have recently been weaned off their mother’s milk.

The DNA evidence found that 658 cattle on the station shared the parental lineage to the original 435 that were missing. Some are thought to be third generation offspring.

Investigators concluded the number of cattle stolen combined with the weaners found on the property exceeds 1200 and is estimated to be worth about $1.47million.

The elderly man has been charged with one count of stealing and two counts of criminal deception.

Investigators concluded the number of cattle stolen combined with the weaners found on the property exceeds 1200 and is estimated to be worth about $1.47million. Pictured: Officers from taskforce starlight

Investigators concluded the number of cattle stolen combined with the weaners found on the property exceeds 1200 and is estimated to be worth about $1.47million. Pictured: Officers from taskforce starlight

The 71-year-old accused of the agricultural crime was arrested and charged after Northern Territory Police executed a search warrant on the man's property

The 71-year-old accused of the agricultural crime was arrested and charged after Northern Territory Police executed a search warrant on the man’s property

He was bailed to appear in Katherine Local Court on June 6 and is expected to be hit with an array of further charges.

‘This operation and subsequent arrest has been the result of extensive investigations from police over the last ten months,’ Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Lawson said.

‘A mustering schedule has been devised and is currently being executed to recover the remaining cattle.

‘Police members with livestock experience have been deployed from Katherine, Adelaide River and the Mounted Unit to assist.

‘It’s been a long road but Taskforce Starlight will ensure every head of stolen cattle is returned.’

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