Rural crime on rise as flock of sheep stolen

PUBLISHED: 08:00 26 January 2012

Archant

A WHOLE flock of sheep was stolen by thieves as experts warn of a rise in rural crime.

The flock of 28 black and white-faced ewes were taken from a field in Hewish last week in an unusual example of criminals targeting farms in North Somerset.

Police say the theft took place between 5pm on January 11 and noon on January 12 when intruders forced entry to the field just off the A370 between the Puxton turn-off and Congresbury, near to the Beacons Works office building.

They then loaded the animals into a lorry before driving off.

The animals’ owner, Robert Williams of The Lodge in High Street, Yatton, said the flock’s worth was greater than usual as the ewes were about to give birth.

He is offering a reward of up to £500 for anyone who contacts the police with information that leads to their recovery.

He said: “The thieves cut the lock on the gate, and then used our own pen to gather them in a group before they took them away.

“It’s one hell of a nuisance, it’s devastating really to lose so many sheep like that.”

Will Hutton, of the National Farmers’ Union, said: “In the last few years there certainly has been a rise in rural crime in the area.

“This can mean organised criminals are targeting a variety of different things whose price has steeply risen over the past couple of years.

“These include livestock, because of the rise in the price of meat, and machinery and scrap metal, similarly because of the rise in the price of that too. Heating oils have also been targeted because of the rising value of fuel.”

Police are keen to hear from anyone who may have been in the area at the time and seen a lorry in the field.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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