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'It's soul-destroying - the people who stole those sheep are farmers, that's the worst part

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John Fagan

John Fagan

John Fagan

A sheep farmer, who had 32 lambs stolen from him earlier this year, says he is surprised that farmers are not taking matters into their own hands to fight rural crime.

Over the last four months , Farming Independent contributor John Fagan (pictured), has sustained more than €15,000 in losses following the theft of his lambs as well as a quad bike.

Mr Fagan, who operates a large sheep farm in Crookedwood, says that anyone found guilty of stealing animals should be publicly shamed and banned from owning livestock for life.

"I'm surprised people haven't taken the law into their own hands. It's out of control. Even if these guys get caught, what do we do to them, nothing," he said.

"People who steal livestock should be banned from ever owning any form of livestock ever again for the rest of their lives. It should be the same as people who are cruel to animals.

"If they are caught they should be publicly shamed. There is no room in the farming community for people who steal animals. It's hard enough to make a living without you're lambs or your calves being stolen out the gate.

"We shouldn't be just shrugging our shoulders about this. We either live in a civilised society or we don't."

The Westmeath farmer has no idea who stole his quad or his lambs but believes that his livestock must have been taken by a fellow farmer.

"It's extremely disconcerting to think that people are walking through your farm at night and helping themselves to your machinery or your stock. I'm here working my backside off and something like this is just a kick in the face," he said.

"This is a horrible blow for me, it's soul destroying. I have to fight hard for every cent I get and something like this is a massive blow. The people who stole those sheep are farmers, that is the worst part.

"You'd hope that there'd be some solidarity amongst farmers but I don't think there is. Everyone looks out for themselves, it's dog eat dog."

These incidents are part of a wider outbreak of rural crime in the local area. A neighbour and relative of Mr Fagan also had a quad bike stolen earlier this year, with the thieves removing the roof off a shed to access the quad bike.

He believes that new technology, such as Google Maps, allows criminals to have unprecedented access to information about farms and the layout of yards.

"My farm is along the main road and whoever did this [stole the lambs] was being

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