DARWIN, AAP – A 71-year-old man faces theft and deception charges after allegedly taking cattle worth almost $1.5 million from a Northern Territory station.

Detectives went to a station on the Sturt Plateau, south of Darwin, in June last year amid allegations that 435 head of cattle had been taken from a nearby property.

They executed a search warrant to recover evidence of sales and to compare the DNA of weaners on the station with that of the stolen cattle.

NT Police say the DNA confirmed that 658 cattle on the station had parental linkages to the original 435 head.

A number of weaners were believed to be up to third-generation offspring of the original herd.


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Some of those had since been sold to other stations, police say, with the total considered stolen rising to about 1200, worth an estimated $1.47 million.

On Wednesday the 71-year-old man was charged with one count of stealing and two counts of criminal deception, and was bailed to appear in Katherine Local Court in June.

Further charges are expected.

Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Lawson said Taskforce Starlight was established to combat stock theft and stock-related crime in the Territory.

“This operation and subsequent arrest has been the result of extensive investigations from police over the last 10 months,” he said.

“A mustering schedule has been devised and is currently being executed to recover the remaining cattle.”

Police with livestock experience have been deployed from Katherine, Adelaide River and the mounted unit.

“It’s been a long road but Taskforce Starlight will ensure every head of stolen cattle is returned,” Det Sen Sgt Lawson said.