/ 5 October 2007

Abattoir beefs up security after gallstone thefts

An Australian abattoir has beefed up security because thieves in its slaughterhouse were stealing cattle gallstones, which are worth almost their weight in gold, a report said on Friday.

The Borthwicks Meatworks in Queensland state will cut the pockets off its employees’ overalls and conduct random searches to protect the gallstones, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

It said the gallstones were highly prized in Asian herbal medicine and could fetch up to Aus$22 000 a kilogram. Gold is fetches about Aus$29 000 dollars a kilogram.

Plans to tighten security come after former abattoir worker Shem John West (37) was this week fined more than Aus$8 000 and given a three-month suspended jail sentence for stealing gallstones.

The Mackay Magistrate’s Court was told that West stole more than Aus$10 000 worth of gallstones from the abattoir between January 2005 and July this year, ABC radio said.

It said another worker was fined Aus$500 in August for the same offence.

Borthwicks managing director Simon Stahl said employees would face increased security measures, including searches of their boots. — AFP