TWO North Queensland cattle crooks have been locked up over what police say is the largest case of livestock stealing seen in the state for decades.

The sentencing of a 58-year-old Capalaba man in Townsville this week, and a 36-year-old Atherton man in Cairns last month, brought to an end the years-long Operation North Veering, carried out by the Cloncurry police stock squad.

The operation began in 2015 after a the owner of a property north of Richmond reported the theft of more than 600 head of cattle. The stock were stolen between 2014 and 2015.

After a four-year investigation, detectives from the Cloncurry stock squad (formally Major and Organised Crime (Rural)) arrested the 36-year-old man, Brenton Butler, who was the manager of the property at the time the cattle were stolen.

He was charged with the theft of 664 head of cattle.

Two months later the 58-year-old Capalaba man, a former property owner, was charged with the theft of 280 head of cattle.

They have now been jailed for three years and nine months, and two years, respectively.

A cattle truck used to steal cattle from a property north of Richmond. IMAGE: Supplied

Detective Sergeant Liam Scanlan (pictured above) said the operation highlighted the dedication and resolve of MOCS Rural detectives to hold offenders to account.

“This is one of Queensland’s largest reported cattle thefts in decades, with factors such as the timeframe between the offence and the complainant noticing the stock missing, the remoteness of the property and the various locations of witnesses all adding to the complexity of the investigation,” Detective Sergeant Scanlan said.

“What this case highlights is just how many cattle can be stolen, the impact on producers and how seriously police take this type of offending.

“It is a timely reminder to all cattle property owners to be vigilant of any suspicious activities and to report it to police as soon as possible.”

Some of the cattle stolen from a property north of Richmond. IMAGE: Supplied
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