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Sheep Rustling

Over the years, sheep rustling has slowly become an organised crime. As one of the more costly crimes in the UK's farming sector, the impact that it has on farmers and business owners is extensive, both financially and emotionally.
Key Facts
  • £2.5m worth of livestock was stolen in 2018.
  • There was an 11% rise in reports of sheep rustling over a two-year period.
  • It has become an organised crime with thousands of pounds worth of sheep being stolen in just one raid.
  • Rustling has a larger effect than the immediate cost of the crime - loosing sheep which have been bred over multiple generations has a long lasting financial and emotional impact.
  • Insurers have reported that its the third most costly crime for the UK's farming sector.
  • 108 cases have been reported over the past four years in Devon and Cornwall alone.
  • During one single raid in 2019, a total of 220 sheep were stolen.
  • Less than 1% (0.75%) of sheep rustling incidents end with a conviction.
Good news... we're already fighting back!
  • The number of incidents of sheep rustling across the UK are down.
  • DNA testing is helping to bring rustlers to justice.
  • Coded fleece paint can help to identify stolen sheep.
  • Electronic identification devices can be swallowed by a sheep and it stays in it's rumen.
What to do if it happens to you
  • Use TrecTRACER paint to make sure that your animals can be traced back to you if they are stolen.
  • Use security lighting in yards and drives and set up geo-fence alerts.
  • CCTV cameras, whether real or fake, often deter rustlers.
  • Signs alerting to CCTV and tagging are also effective deterrents.
  • Keep regular count of your flocks. The sooner the theft is recognised, the higher the chance of getting the sheep back before they are illegally slaughtered.
  • Join a FarmWatch scheme in your area.
  • Where possible, graze sheep away from roads.
  • Use internal trackers such as mineral bolus', which don't pass through the sheep. Time is key here as rustlers may remove them upon slaughter, so notifying the police quickly will you the best chance of return.

Contact the Rural Crime Reporting Line on 0800 783 0137 to give information. The service is 100% anonymous and no personal information is required.

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