Although commonly associated with a by-gone age, livestock rustling witnessed a dramatic increase this year, with reports from Somerset claiming that as many as £65,000 worth of livestock had been stolen over the four-month period of summer alone.
While the recent NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey claims that agricultural crime within the United Kingdom declined in 2012 compared to the previous year, livestock thefts continued to rise, with a total of £500,000 worth of stock stolen within the UK.
Unfortunately, this trend appears set to continue in 2013, with reports from Northern Ireland estimating that 3,000 head of cattle have been stolen so far this year and various large-scale incidents of theft have occurred all over England.
In August, 120 sheep were stolen from a moorland farm in County Durham, 98 rare breed sheep – worth an estimated £15,000 – disappeared from a farm in Devon and in July, 127 pigs were taken from a farm in Norfolk.
Devon and Cornwall police alone claim that £30,000 worth of sheep were stolen throughout the region during the four months of summer this year; amounting to around 300 animals.
What is particularly galling to many victims is that the skill required to carry out such thefts also indicates that the criminals come from within the farming community; by tradition a very honest, mutually supportive and hard-working collective.
In order to steal larger numbers of livestock, criminals require knowledge of the local area, access to suitable transportation vehicles and good stockmanship skills. More....