Livestock rustlers steal 19 cattle from farm near Shepton Mallet

Livestock rustling cost an estimated £2.7 million last year, according to NFU Mutual figures
Livestock rustling cost an estimated £2.7 million last year, according to NFU Mutual figures

Livestock rustlers have stolen 19 beef cattle from a farm in Somerset, as police urge anyone with information to cooperate.

Avon and Somerset Police is appealing for more information regarding the theft, which occurred in West Compton, near Shepton Mallet.

The stolen cattle are a mix of breeds, including Herefords and Angus, with the theft taking place overnight on 9 and 10 December.

Livestock rustling has become lucrative for criminal gangs, with farm animals worth an estimated £2.7 million stolen in 2022.

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesperson said: "We take this theft seriously, and our priority is to swiftly resolve this case.

"The theft of livestock not only has a significant impact on the farmers but also affects the local agricultural community.

"We urge anyone with information to cooperate with us, as your assistance is invaluable in helping to recover the stolen cattle and ensuring the safety and well-being of our community."

Anyone with any details that could assist the investigation should contact the police on 101 quoting case number 5223302781.

What can I do to bolster security?

Preventing livestock theft is not as easy as putting a padlock on a building or fitting a security system to a tractor.

However, rural insurer NFU Mutual says there are a number of steps farmers can take to reduce the risk:

• 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 times of feeding/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