Farm raiders steal flock as sheep rustling on rise

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A FARMER has seen 40 of his sheep stolen in a robbery that spanned two nights.

The theft saw around £2700 worth of ewes and lambs snatched from two fields in East Lothian.

The farmer, who asked not to be named, said it came at a time when sheep, livestock and metal thefts were on the rise at farms across the Lothians.

Between last Thursday night and Friday morning, 24 sheep were stolen from a field at Thurston Mains Farm, near Dunbar, and the following night 12 sheep were taken from a field to the north of Nunraw Abbey, near Garvald.

The farmer explained that sheep had become a more valuable commodity in the past year as the cost of many species had climbed from £40 or £50 per head to £100 or more.

He said: “Unfortunately we’re now open to more crime. We struggled after BSE and other issues hit, but now prices have risen again and people are back out to take sheep. Ewes and young lambs of mine were stolen, some of them only a few days old, so they will have been easy targets.”

The 51-year-old added: “We’ve had our workshops broken into also, and had about £1500 worth of tools taken. Other farms have had their diesel tanks drained and a lot of scrap metal has been taken. Up and down the Lothians farms are getting hit.

“The lambs can obviously be sold on at market, but I am sure markets and slaughter houses are being very vigilant at the moment.”

In recent years records from Lothian & Borders Police show that tens of thousands of pounds worth of sheep have been snatched from farms.

Up until September 2011, they recorded 820 sheep going missing in the area since 2006, worth more than £54,000 in total.

A police spokesman said: “The thief would have had to transport the sheep in a vehicle, and we are appealing to anyone who was in the areas where the thefts took place, who noticed any suspicious overnight activity, to contact police.

“Similarly, anyone who has been offered the sheep for sale, or who has any other information that can help us trace those responsible, should also get in touch.”