A Table top farmer, who had the double gates to one of his paddocks stolen, says a fatality may have resulted if his cattle had escaped onto a nearby road.
Noel Ryan first noticed the four metre metal and wire gates facing the Olympic Highway were missing on Thursday morning.
He said he hadn’t visited the paddock since Tuesday morning, but believed they were taken Wednesday night.
“If it had of been stolen before they would have been out of the gate onto the highway,” Mr Ryan said.
“If they went, the 30-odd head of cattle could have been hit by a car and you wouldn’t know who could have been killed.
“Especially at night, there could have been a serious accident.”
Mr Ryan said the cattle may have reached the nearby railway line, with no grids to prevent them from leaving the paddock.
“It could have been an absolute disaster,” he said.
The farmer said whoever had stolen the gates hadn’t thought of the consequences and he wanted to warn others so it didn’t happen to them.
He said the cost to replace the gates would be about $250, but that wasn’t what most concerned him.
“It’s not the value, it’s the damage it could do to the general public,” he said.
“It’s scary what could have happened.”
Mr Ryan said he had reported the incident to police, but didn’t think it was likely his gates would be found.
“One gate looks the same as a thousand,” he said.
The farmer said the gates hadn’t been locked shut the past few months in case firefighters required entry to the paddock.