Agri-Crime Rampage Reined In, Police Say

Watching over the cows at Kibbutz Marom Golan, in the Golan Heights. (Maor Kinsbursky/Flash90)

A dramatic reduction in a range of agricultural crimes plaguing the country was announced this week by the Israeli police, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The Agricultural Crimes Unit claimed that a determined nationwide crackdown has resulted in a 56 percent drop in cattle thefts, a 62 percent drop in tractor thefts, a 17 percent increase in arrests and a 136 percent increase in the number of indictments filed against agricultural crime offenders compared to last year.

In addition to farming equipment and cattle, goats, sheep, chickens and fruits and vegetables have also been the targets of gangs of thieves.

“These declines are the result of determined and uncompromising enforcement to identify the individuals and gangs involved in agricultural theft,” the Israel Police said in a statement.

“The figures unequivocally demonstrate the high efficiency of police activities in this area, which combines several layers of enforcement – including ongoing, overt and covert activity carried out by Border Police, and the use of sophisticated intelligence and technological means.”

The ACU reported 989 animals stolen in the first half of 2017 compared to 2,245 in the first half of 2016; 18 tractors stolen this year versus 47 last year; 93 suspects arrested this year, compared to 78 during the corresponding period in 2016.

Despite the police claims, Zionist Camp MK Eytan Broshi, chairman of the Knesset’s Agricultural Lobby, said that “agricultural terrorism” – primarily arson – continues unabated.

Broshi charged that in this respect, at least, the trend has been in the opposite direction: “In recent weeks, there has been a dramatic increase in agricultural arson, despite the efforts of the security forces.”

“I am in contact with the Prime Minister’s Office and the minister of public security in order to hold a discussion headed by the minister of justice and the participation of all parties,” he said.

“We must define agricultural crime as terrorism that harms the security of rural areas, and the entire country.”

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