WA’s tight-knit pastoral industry has been rocked by allegations two of its own are involved in cattle rustling in the Gascoyne and Pilbara. Edmund Station pastoralists Richard Arends and Rachael Third are set to face Carnarvon Magistrate’s Court on Monday. Police allege the pair, aged 43 and 37 respectively, were involved with the theft and sale of 803 cattle worth about $800,000 but would not say when the alleged thefts occurred. Mr Arends and Ms Third have each been charged with six counts of stealing, six charges of property laundering and one charge of receiving. WA Police recently launched a taskforce Operation Topography to investigate what they say is an established criminal network involved in the theft and sale of cattle from the Gascoyne and Pilbara. The pair’s charges have shocked WA’s tight-knit pastoral industry. WAFarmers chief executive Trevor Whittington said it was the biggest stock theft he had heard of in recent times. He said it would be “incredibly disappointing” if the allegations were proven and it was pastoralists behind the crimes. Hedland Export Depot manager Paul Brown said he believed there was “no way” two people could steal 800 cattle and said he believed there must be a syndicate operating in WA. “Cattle rustling is very different to sheep rustling where you can drive in with two dogs and a motorbike and push sheep on to a truck,” he said. “Cattle rustling from pastoral stations is a much bigger effort... to take that number of cattle from pastoral stations requires complex logistics. Mr Brown said while the modern-day pastoral industry was professional, there were still “operators out there looking to make a quick, illegal buck”. “This allegation involves a significant amount of cattle and a significant amount of cost to the pastoral industry,” he said. “It will be interesting to know what kind of timeframe this has been occurred in. “My dealings with the livestock compliance unit have been very positive so I would like to think they are heavily involved.” The charges come four months after Wheatbelt police started to investigate a spate of sheep thefts in Calingiri and Bolgart, with about 120 animals reported missing in the three months to November, including the theft of 80 animals — worth about $18,000 — from one farm. Edmund Station is located about 380km north-west of Carnarvon and hit the headlines last June when five working horses were shot on the 90,000 acre property. At the time, Ms Third told media five of her seven working horses had been shot in her absence by what she believed were feral donkey and brumby shooters. The station is near Maroonah and Mangaroon stations, which were sold after being put into administration under Buurabalayji Thalanyji Aboriginal Corporation.