Farm Crime and Security: Evaluating Smart Tag Technology for Preventing, Tracking and Recovering Stolen Livestock




Ceres Tag, Livestock Theft, Farm Security, Livestock Tracking, Theft Prevention


This research study evaluates the efficacy of Ceres Tag, a livestock information platform that utilises a unique smart tag, in improving farm security by preventing, interrupting, and reducing livestock theft – a prevalent issue among farmers and landholders in countries like Australia. The Ceres Tag is equipped with an accelerometer and global navigation satellite system (GNSS) technology to collect data on animal health, welfare, movement, and traceability. It was hypothesised that the Ceres Tag could combat livestock theft by enabling interventions at three key stages: rapid prevention, tracking of stolen livestock, and recovery of stolen livestock. To assess this, a mock theft of livestock was staged, accompanied by a coordinated law enforcement response. Key findings include: (1) the Ceres Tag issued a ‘high activity alert’ to farmers, indicating significant livestock agitation, within 12 minutes of the mock theft initiation; (2) utilising the data, the New South Wales (NSW) Police were able to track and interrupt the livestock theft within 25 minutes; (3) the data enabled the NSW Police to repeatedly track and interrupt the theft on three separate occasions over a 110 kilometre distance and 90-minute period; and (4) following the thieves' arrival at their destination, the NSW Police, aided by the data, recovered the stolen livestock within 20 minutes. The Ceres Tag system increases the risk of criminal behaviour in often riskless rural settings, effectively ‘hardening’ livestock as targets through technological innovation. Furthermore, the platform provides farmers with tangible evidence of a crime, substantially expediting the crime reporting process. This timely reporting, coupled with the data provided by Ceres Tag, positions police for rapid and effective intervention, thereby enhancing their capacity to investigate and resolve incidents of livestock theft. Overall, the results suggest that the Ceres Tag offers a promising technological tool for farmers and law enforcement officers alike, aimed at fortifying farm security and minimizing livestock theft.




How to Cite

Mulrooney, K., & Harkness, A. (2023). Farm Crime and Security: Evaluating Smart Tag Technology for Preventing, Tracking and Recovering Stolen Livestock. International Journal of Rural Criminology, 8(1), 107–123.



Research Notes