Appeal issued after gang butchers and steals dozens of lambs from two neighbouring farms

Police appeal for information following a double case of lamb slaughter and theft in Shropshire – prompting farmers to reassess their livestock security. 

West Mercia Police issued an appeal after sheep were butchered and taken from two farms in Claverley, Shropshire.

A number of young livestock were killed on two farms in Claverley during incidents that happened on Friday 8th and Sunday 10th March. Intruders butchered and stole dozens of lambs. 

Talking to the Shropshire Star, a farmer who did not wish to be named said: “I didn’t know what had happened at first. There were about 15 to 20 patches of blood, but no carcasses at all. 

“It wasn’t until my neighbour, who was targeted by who believe are the same gang on Sunday, told me her lambs had been shot before they had taken them away. 

“We now know they came in two vehicles, and they even closed the gates behind them when they left.” 

Not due to be butchered 

The farmer believes that meat from the killed lambs could end up in the food chain. 

He added: “These were young lambs, only around 35 kg, so were not due to be butchered, and their ewes will suffer in the long term as they are still producing milk. 

“It is one of those things that you hear about, but you never think it will happen to you. 

“Obviously, we are very rural here, and if it is not this, it is all the thieving that goes on. It is just the way it is going in farming now.”

READ MORE: Hundreds of sheep stolen as livestock rustlers target UK farms

Police appeal 

West Mercia Police issued an appeal for any information regarding the incidents. 

Inspector Lee Medlam said: “You will see an increased police presence around the area as we carry out investigations into the two incidents. Officers will also be available to talk to anybody who may have any information that will help with our enquiries and to answer any questions the community may have. 

“We would appeal to anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious activity in and around Claverley on Friday or over the weekend to please contact us”. 

If you have any information, please call 01743 261817. 

Alternatively, information can be shared anonymously with the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or by visiting the website.

READ MORE: Livestock worth £1.8m killed and injured by dogs in just one year

How can farmers handle livestock rustling?

According to the latest figures from NFU Mutual, UK livestock theft cost an estimated £2.7 million in 2022. This often leads to the animals being sold on the black market. 

NFU Mutual has published a number of steps that farmers can take to reduce the risk of their livestock being stolen. 

To deter livestock thieves, the insurer advises farmers to: 

  • Ensure stock is clearly marked and records are up-to-date.
  • When possible, graze livestock in fields away from roads or consider housing them inside.
  • Check stock regularly and vary the times of feedings and check-ups. 
  • Consider a high-tech marking system.
  • Join a farm or rural watch scheme to share information about rural crime in your area.
  • Ask neighbours to report any suspicious sightings to the police.
  • Dial 999 immediately if an incident is taking place – do not approach criminals.

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