Farmworker thefts put region's economy on the line
BRAZEN daylight thefts of personal items are increasingly targeting farm workers.
These could have greater affects than just the personal cost, with producers worried they could put workers off coming to the region.
Items have reportedly been stolen and cars broken into as thieves target workers harvesting crops on farm across the Lockyer Valley.
Barden Produce farm manager Trevor Pezet was shocked by what he described as a "brazen and opportunistic” incident earlier this week.
Several farm workers were harvesting pumpkins on the company's property near Gatton when a blue Holden Commodore pulled of the road close to where the workers' cars and belongings were.
"They've just jumped out and grabbed three bags that were just on the ground, jumped in the car and drove off,” Mr Pezet said.
Mr Pezet said the thefts were a new occurrence he had not experienced before.
He said other farms had reported similar incidents in recent weeks, with workers' belongings and cars also being targeted.
Mr Pezet has now changed policies on the farm to improve security and safety of employees and has warned workers to be on the lookout for suspicious individuals.
In addition to the obvious costs and impact of the crime, he worries the impact these incidents could have on the region's reputation as a destination for farm workers, which has already faced troubles.
"There's already dodgy contractors or people doing work and not being paid,” he said.
If crimes like this week's incident continue, Mr Pezet said it won't just be producers who suffer from reduced workers.
"It will affect businesses with them shopping locally, it will affect their accommodation if their unable to pay their rent -there's a flow-on effect,” he said.