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Brutal sheep rustling rise sparks new warning

By Rory Smith | Shrewsbury | Crime | Published:

Police are urging farmers and rural communities in Shropshire and neighbouring counties to look out for barbaric sheep rustlers after a number of livestock have been stolen and butchered.

Last week, farmer Andrew Bebb found five of his wife's rare-breed sheep trussed up in the corner of a field near Wroxeter.

A large knife and other equipment was found in a bag near the terrified animals.

The remainders of butchered sheep were also found in the Atcham area and it is thought a farm in Church Stretton may also have been targeted.

Andrew Bebb found sheep trussed up in the corner of a field

Mr Bebb is now warning the public not to buy meat from the black market, saying animal medication and other issues can make them not safe for humans.

His wife, well known breeder Davina Stanhope, managed to rescue 14 rare Leicester long wools from the field after the attack on her livestock.

Since then, gangs have targeted two roadside farms in Warwickshire, where it is reported 19 ewes were killed and butchered after being chased.

It is also reported similar incidents have taken place in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.

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Officers from neighbouring counties are now linking with border forces as part of an ongoing investigation.

Carol Cotterill, Warwickshire Police rural crime officer, said: "Theft and illegal butchery of sheep is a serious offence, which can cause suffering to the animals and financial repercussions to farmers.

Vigilant

Enquiries are currently ongoing into a number of incidents and we would urge anyone who has witnessed any suspicious activity or has any information that could help with enquiries to please come forward.

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"We also ask all owners of livestock and residents who live near fields with livestock in to be extra vigilant and report any concerns to us.

Metal wires were left hanging from trees near where sheep remains were found in a separate incident near Atcham

"There is also concern that these offenders are chasing the sheep before catching some of the animals and this may have caused problems with the rest of the flock such as health risks to the ewes and unborn lambs.

Warning:

  • Readers may find the images of sheep remains below distressing

"We are warning all sheep farmers to stay extra vigilant, particularly those who have fields in more remote locations. Always ensure gates are locked and are in good working order and stock is regularly checked and accounted for.

"Members of the public should also be mindful of being offered meat for sale in suspicious circumstances.

"If you suspect someone has attempted to target your animals, or find that you’ve lost livestock in this way, please report it to police immediately."

Parts of dead sheep were found by a dog walker near Atcham

Anyone who has seen anything suspicious, or who has information about the sheep rustling or where meat is being sold on the black market, should contact the police on 101.

Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or at crimestoppers-uk.org

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Trainee news reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Ketley office in Telford.

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