Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Police warn farmers sheep rustlers might be hiding stock in 'plain sight'

Police find 65 stolen sheep 'hidden in plain sight'

Photo: North Yorkshire Police
Photo: North Yorkshire Police
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Police in the UK have issued a warning about the theft of sheep - many of which they say end up 'hidden in plain sight' in fields and barns - after a suspected stolen flock was found in North Yorkshire.

On Saturday 4 February 2017, as a result of information received from a member of the public, North Yorkshire Police Rural Taskforce officers located a flock of about 65 head, a mixture of sheep and goats, in the Hambleton area.

They had been placed in a field unknown to the landowner, and are believed to be stolen.

A 54-year-old man from Middlesbrough was arrested at the scene on suspicion of theft and possession of cannabis. He has been released on bail pending further enquiries.

Inspector Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said that over recent years, North Yorkshire Police and surrounding rural forces have taken an increasing number of reports relating to the theft of sheep.

"The Rural Taskforce has been focusing on this problem, and we have identified that sheep have been stolen, often in ones and twos, sometimes in trailer-loads.

"Some will be destined almost immediately for the illegal meat trade, while others are 'hidden' in open view in fields and barns across a wide geographic area".

He said the difficulty with the nature of this crime is that it is not necessarily immediately obvious to farmers, who may only be able to identify their shortfall at the time of bringing sheep in to scan or to worm, which often gives a very wide timeframe for us to work with.

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“Lines of enquiry are limited, and this is where we need the public’s help to call in suspicious movements of animals, or animals appearing in fields unexpectedly.”

 North Yorkshire Police are making every effort to identify the owners of this livestock, and are keen for anyone who has had sheep or goats stolen since lambing 2016 to contact them giving as much information as possible to assist with identification.

“There are likely to be many similar fields across North Yorkshire and further afield.

If you notice anything unusual – a different person attending a flock, or offers of sheep or goats for sale either for meat or as stores – please contact us. If you are able to get any names, vehicle details, and registrations or even partial registrations we would like to know.

If you see something that you think is suspicious or out of place, please call it in to the police on 101,” he said.

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