Police have highlighted an 'alarming upward curve' of livestock rustling in Derbyshire following the theft of 71 pregnant ewes.
Police are asking the public for more information after 71 Texel pregnant ewes were stolen from a field in Hartington.
The incident occurred on Hyde Lane on Monday night (March 4).
Derbyshire Rural Crime Team posted a public plea for more information, which has been shared over 1,000 times.
“The current trend in livestock thefts has suddenly taken an alarming upward curve with a large scale theft last night,” the team said.
“A number of thefts – mostly sheep – have been reported lately, usually involving fewer than a dozen animals.
“These are bad enough and pose a real threat to the livelihoods of the farmers, but last night 71 Texel ewes in lamb were taken from a field at Hartington.
“This shows that we have a really serious problem in the area and we need your help.”
The police are appealing for information on any suspicious activity on the night of March 4 as 71 sheep 'take some shifting'.
“Finally, we need information. Someone knows who’s doing this or may at least have an inkling. There’s no honour in protecting a thief and any information will be treated with complete confidentiality,” the team added.
It comes as new figures show that nearly 10,000 sheep stolen last year by livestock rustlers in England and Wales has only resulted in one charge by the police.
The BBC made a Freedom of Information (FoI) request into the crime, which shows an increase in the past few years.
There were 381 incidents of sheep theft in 2018, but Hertfordshire Police was the only force to bring a charge.
Last month, a high profile incident was widely reported where rustlers stole more than 140 sheep, including some from a 15-year-old boy, in what was said to have been an 'organised' theft.