Stock theft information centres

It is imperative that stock owners and red meat producers become involved more actively in investigations and controlling stock theft. One of the most effective ways in which producers can ensure a greater say in investigations and successful prosecutions, is by establishing stock theft information centres (STIC) in their districts.

Producers are slow to establish stock theft information centres in their respective magisterial districts. Producers, police officials and state prosecutors can keep in contact informally, communicate better and cooperate through these centres. In this way producers can have a direct say in the investigation and successful prosecution of their stock theft cases.

The overarching aim of such a centre is to form a representative structure of, among others, stock owners in a district. In this way they can join hands to control stock theft by carrying out investigations and sharing findings, and by contacting and negotiating with each other. In doing so the production of red meat and other animal products are safeguarded.

According to national instructions, the commanding officer of a stock theft unit is obligated to establish a STIC in his/her service area in cooperation with the stock owners, if so requested.

The STIC helps to motivate stock owners to get involved in the prevention of stock theft and the tightening of their own security in several ways:

  • Collect information on the incidence of stock theft, suspect persons and crime trends in their area and district and pass this on to the SAPS and stock theft units.
  • Receive information from the police and stock theft units on stock theft, suspects and crime trends in their area and district.
  • Exchange information on suspects, crime trends and the incidence of stock theft with other stock theft information centres and stock theft units.
  • Help to determine ownership of livestock in cases where identification is difficult.
  • Control stock theft by keeping in contact with other stock owners and the police, participating in crime prevention patrols and attending meetings about stock theft.
  • Point out serious crime trends in respect of stock theft in the community, identify problem areas and areas where stock theft is suspected and help to devise operational plans to control this crime.
  • Stay in contact with investigating officials and state prosecutors to correct shortcomings in their reported cases and ensure convictions. State prosecutors can play a leading role by providing training in legislation and court procedures.
  • Pay attention to complaints or identified problems received from stock theft information centres, district agricultural unions, farmers’ associations, the police or any other business or organisation concerned with trading, slaughtering or transporting of stock and produce. Where necessary the stock theft information centres can help to resolve identified problems or to prevent a recurrence of such problems.

A STIC should consist of the following role players:

  • stock owners and producers
  • commander of the stock theft unit or an appointed investigating officer for the area or district concerned
  • a state prosecutor in the magisterial district where the STIC is situated
  • the station commissioner(s)
  • any person who can advise the STIC on stock theft issues
  • auctioneers and feedlot associations
  • representatives of state departments that are co-opted from time to time by the STIC. Members of farmers’ associations and district agricultural unions nominate and elect the chairperson, vice-chairperson and secretary of the STIC.

Minutes of meetings must be kept diligently and copies sent to the provincial stock theft prevention forums. The STIC cooperates closely with the stock theft prevention forum in the relevant province. Problems and situations that the STIC is unable to deal with successfully should be referred to the provincial stock theft prevention forum in writing, and the STIC should receive feedback. All information that the STIC receives, should be regarded as confidential. Sensitive information on matters related to stock theft should rather not be mentioned in minutes