A bison and her calf graze together , as an egret relaxes on the calf at Barrackpore. Livestock and crops in the area are being stolen by rustlers. Farmers are appealing for a meeting with the Commissioner of Police.

Rustlers are stealing hundreds of animals from Barrackpore farmers inclusive of sheep, goats, cows and poultry.

Farmer Natalie Francois says over 30 farmers from St Mary’s to Barrackpore have lost over 1,000 animals for this year alone.

Calling on Police Commissioner Gary Griffith and the Ministry of Agriculture to step up patrols and boost the Predial Larceny Squad, Francois said the animals are being stolen in broad daylight.

“The animals just disappear in thin air and we have no means of getting back our animals. We need help to get the technology to track our animals. If they go missing we could track them. We need to move in that direction of technology so if any losses occur we should be able to get them back,” Francois said.

Another farmer Azahar Mohammed, of Kanhai Road, South Barrackpore said since January he has lost over 35 heads of animals.

“This is my livelihood. Police are working with us but we not getting recovery of our stolen animals,” Mohammed complained. He said his losses were over $150,000 noting that the last theft occurred last week Tuesday and last Friday when seven and later 12 animals went missing.

Mohammed said the rustlers come in vans and cars and took the animals as they grazed in the fields.

“It is hard work rearing animals these days because of the kind of weather we get. When we take our time and care for our animals it is very hard to lose everything,” he added.

Meanwhile president of the Cunjal Community Council and head of the Barrackpore Police Community Council Shaheed Allaham said poultry farmers were also hard-hit. He said the farmers had noticed a trend in the larceny. Most of the theft occur on Thursdays, or the days’ poultry shops open for sales.

“They so boldfaced they come in vehicles and load them into car trunks and drive away. We believe it could be some people from outside the area. There were two recent arrests, one suspect from la Romaine and the other from North Trinidad,” Allaham said. He noted that there was a Predial Larceny Squad in Princes Town and farmers had been advised to invest in microchip tracking devices and closed-circuit cameras. However, he noted that farmers were poor and could not afford these devices.

“We are hoping that the government will offer subsidies to assist farmers,” Allaham said.

Ashmin Mohammed, whose children list 37 animals for the year said she was fed up of the theft.

“I have fatherless children. My children work hard and to see them lose everything is distressing,” Mohammed said. Another farmer Israel Mohammed said it was not only livestock farmers who were suffering. He said root crop farmers, as well as those cultivating short crops, have also fallen prey to thieves. He said farmers are beaten and they have no way of defending themselves.

He called on Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to provide firearm users licenses to farmers.

“The bandits have weapons and we have nothing. We deserve the right to bear arms.”

The farmers are calling for a meeting with Commissioner Griffith.