Calls for farm watch scheme after cattle worth almost €35k stolen from farms in Co Tyrone border area

Mark Bain

More than 30 cows believed to be valued at over £30,000 (€34,466) have been stolen from a border community in two separate incidents in recent weeks.

In one of the thefts, 22 cattle were taken from sheds on Glassdrummond Road near Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone.

These were a mixture of breeds including Friesians, Charolais and Limousin which were taken between March 30 and April 2.

All tag numbers and details of the cows have been passed on from local officers to the Department of Agriculture's enforcement team.

The second incident happened between 6pm on February 24 and 6pm on February 25, when nine heifers were stolen from a shed at a farm in Aughnacloy, with a lock being cut to gain access.

The cows are estimated to be worth £5,500 by the owner.

Sinn Fein Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Colm Gildernew has urged farmers to be vigilant after the two separate thefts in the same area.

He said: "The theft of these cattle in Aughnacloy will have a huge impact, especially financially, on the farmers.

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"I would urge all farmers in the area to work with the PSNI in branding livestock and setting up a farm watch scheme, as a coordinated approach to this crime is needed.

"If we are to lessen the amount of crime on farms, we need the entire rural community to work together and be vigilant in order to disrupt the criminal gangs that prey on farmers.

A PSNI Dungannon & South Tyrone spokesman said: "Both of these incidents are a major loss to both farmers' livelihoods, the cattle are of high value.

"We are keen to speak to anyone with any information to help us track down suspects and we are keen to share this information in our rural areas.

"We have spoken to our crime prevention officer who is advising farmers to check livestock often but avoid setting a pattern by varying times.

"Look for signs of suspicious activity - meal on the ground, footprints, tyre tracks. Consider the use of wildlife cameras on out farms and display appropriate signage."

Anyone with information on the thefts is asked to contact police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference numbers CC420 6/4/18 and CC944 26/2/18.

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