Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

Gardai ask for help over big rise in sheep rustling

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Gardai in Co Wicklow have appealed to the public for help in tracking down sheep rustlers who have been on a thieving spree for the past few months.

Ewes and lambs have been stolen in batches of up to 40 at a time, although in some cases just two or three ewes have been taken.

Despite a number of arrests, sheep theft is still occurring in the county, particularly in hill areas where sheep are not handled on a regular basis.

Garda Mark Doran, from Baltinglass station, confirmed that dozens of sheep had been reported stolen.

A farmer from Dunlavin had 40 ewe lambs worth €6,000 stolen from a field next to his yard on September 16.

The ewe lambs had two ear notches but were not tagged. A second batch of ewes and hoggets belonging to the same farmer, which were grazing in the adjacent field, were not disturbed during the incident.


Other sheep thefts reported to gardai in Baltinglass include 27 factory lambs worth €2,700 taken from the Donard area in late July. The lambs were marked out for sale by the farmer using a red-paint mark on the shoulder but were untagged.

Also Read

Another batch of 20 lambs, again marked for sale, were stolen from another yard in Donard just a week earlier. The lambs were valued at €2,000. A hill farmer reported 25 sheep, worth €2,000, missing from a mountainous area near Hollywood last January.

Three hoggets were stolen from Brittas, near Blessington in April, while two ewes and three lambs were stolen from Lacken, also near Blessington, in July.

Garda Doran confirmed that one man had been arrested and faced court proceedings for livestock theft, but added that livestock thefts had continued after the man's arrest.

The latest incident reported to gardai in Roundwood station involved the theft of 15 sheep from a hilly area five miles outside the village.

"The sheep were reported missing on October 14 but could have been taken between May and September," said the garda sergeant. "We would ask the public for any information they might have and urge them to report any suspicious activity," he added.

ICSA sheep chairman Mervyn Sunderland said the thieves "seem to be one step ahead of the farmer all the time".

"They've been lifting sheep the whole summer and it seems to be guys who know the areas well. In some places they take a few and in others they take more.

"It's got to the stage now where farmers are nearly selling sheep because they're afraid of them being lifted," he maintained.

"Fellows are saying they don't know where they will strike next and they could be next."

Irish Independent