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Police warn of devastating impact of sheep rustling in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 08:56 23 April 2020 | UPDATED: 10:31 23 April 2020

PC Kevin Stollery works for the Rural Crimes Team based in Halesworth and is concerned about targeted sheep thefts. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

PC Kevin Stollery works for the Rural Crimes Team based in Halesworth and is concerned about targeted sheep thefts. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Archant

The public are being asked to be on the look out for potential sheep rustlers after a spate of rural crimes in Suffolk.

Suffolk farmer Tom Walne has spoken up about the devastating effet of rural crime. Picture: JERRY TURNERSuffolk farmer Tom Walne has spoken up about the devastating effet of rural crime. Picture: JERRY TURNER

In recent weeks sheep have been stolen from farms around the county, and brutally slaughtered. Their owners have been left devastated.

PC Kevin Stollery, of the Suffolk Constabulary Rural Crimes Team, investigated two such cases and said: “The general public often don’t know a thing about this and how common it is.

“The profile of rural crime needs raising outside of the farming world.

Tom Walne’s two pet ewes were stolen from their field in Ipswich one night in late March and just a week later the 86-year-old was told by police that a dog walker had found the remains of Titch and Sheepy on a footpath in nearby Barham.

PC Kevin Stollery works for the Rural Crimes Team based in Halesworth and is concerned about targeted sheep thefts. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARYPC Kevin Stollery works for the Rural Crimes Team based in Halesworth and is concerned about targeted sheep thefts. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Less than a month later at Poplar Farm in Tuddenham St Martin, Becki Spry lost two of her 100-strong sheep flock to thieves who took the pair to a neighbouring village to be slaughtered, leaving the remains in garden in Grundisburgh garden.

Sadly, PC Stollery says conviction rates for these types of crimes are low as they often are committed in remote areas with very few security options to protect the animals, but he is sure more awareness could help improve chances of catching thieves who often operate at night.

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He said: “It could be that someone is driving home late at night and spots something suspicious in a field, or things don’t look right.

“If they are armed with that knowledge, then they can do something with it and the public can potentially help a lot more.”

Mr Walne has been consumed by the thought of what happened to his beloved pets and said: “I honestly lay in bed at night thinking about what more I could have done to save my sheep.

“This isn’t just an issue for farmers, it is one for everyone.”

Pc Stollery says CCTV - and warning signs - can help protect sheep but there are also cheaper options available.

He said: “Not all crime prevention costs thousands of pounds.”

Although the animals taken most recently were savagely killed, he believes often sheep are stolen by those involved in the illegal meat trade.

“These don’t tend to be large scale operations, the most I’ve seen be taken at once is three or four,” he said.

“I have no doubt that some of the meat will actually end up in food outlets.”


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