York & North Yorkshire

Stolen sheep and goats found in North Yorkshire field

Sheep Image copyright North Yorkshire Police
Image caption The flock of 65 sheep and goats was found on a field in Hambleton by a landowner who had no idea where the animals had come from

Sixty five stolen sheep and goats were found "hidden" in a field in North Yorkshire.

The flock was found by a landowner in the Hambleton area. Officers said stolen animals were often hidden in plain view.

Police believe the animals were destined for the illegal meat trade.

A 54-year-old man from Middlesbrough was arrested on suspicion of theft and possession of cannabis. He was later released on bail.

Insp Jon Grainge, of North Yorkshire Police, said sheep were being stolen in a covert operation "often in ones and twos, sometimes in trailer-loads".

He said there had been a rise in the number of reports of stolen sheep.

"Some will be destined almost immediately for the illegal meat trade, while others are hidden in open view in fields and barns across a wide geographic area.

"The difficulty with the nature of this crime is that it is not necessarily immediately obvious to farmers, who may only be able to identify their shortfall at the time of bringing sheep in to scan or to worm, which often gives a very wide timeframe for us to work with."

Insp Grainge appealed for anyone who had seen "suspicious movements of animals, or animals appearing in fields unexpectedly" to contact the force.

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