By Mark Tallentire
A landowners' group is urging rural communities to pull together to combat a rustling rush.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) says there was a 129 per cent rise in livestock thefts in the six months to March, with rustlers seeking to cash in on the black market meat trade.
Earlier this month, 136 Suffolk Cross lambs together worth more than £9,000 were stolen from the popular Broom House Farm visitor attraction near Witton Gilbert, County Durham.
Douglas Chalmers, the CLA North director of policy and public affairs, said: “People who live in the countryside are usually very good at raising the alarm if something untoward happens, such as cattle escaping, but it is hard to know sometimes if a person working in a field should be there or not.
“That’s why we’re encouraging farmers and their non-farming neighbours to really get to know each other and share details of the farm’s working patters so that it will be easy to spot any suspect activity.”