Crime is a complex and multi-layered phenomenon that impacts the lives of every South African. One crime type – and its causes and consequences – that has been relatively under-researched in the country is livestock theft. This crime is becoming of increasingly concern due to its progressively organized nature and its consequential impact on local and national food security. In this study, we use a seminal spatial theory of crime – the routine activities theory – to examine the incidence of livestock theft in the farming community of Swartruggens, a small town in the North West Province of South Africa. Using group conversations with local community members as well as a series of interviews with farmers, we obtain a better theoretical understanding of the causal and contributary factors to the occurrence of livestock thefts in the area. We further motivate for a ‘contestation of crime’ in this community whereby various role players provide different and distinct rationales behind this scourge afflicting this town and its surroundings. A collaborative approach is recommended between community members and farmers to change the narrative depicted by both groups. This will hopefully deescalate existing tensions in the community and reduce the likelihood of further thefts occurring.