Police are calling for more witnesses after rustlers stole more than seventy sheep from Derbyshire farmland.
Twenty-seven ewes and 46 lambs were stolen from land at Shatton village between 1 September and 3 September.
PC Paul Gamble, of the Derbyshire Rural Crime Team, said livestock rustling carries a 'significant financial loss' to farmers.
"It can also cause some concern around not knowing what has happened to the animals, and the time and effort it takes to establish a flock," he added.
“While it is quite a remote area, we would like to hear from anyone who may have noticed any suspicious vehicles or activity during that time or who may have information around the illegal trade in livestock.
“Get in touch if you have any information, no matter how small, as even if it turns out the individuals are legitimate, we would rather be made aware so we can check all is well.”
It comes after thieves stole more than 100 lambs from a farm near Penrith, Cumbria between September 3 and 12.
And in other rustling incidents to have occurred recently, thieves stole 50 lambs and 71 lambs in Dorset and Devon respectively.
Figures show rural crime costs have reached an eight year high in the UK - totalling £54m in 2019.
NFU Mutual's report shows that livestock theft increased last year, with the cost going up 9% to £3 million.
Gangs taking large numbers of sheep, which are thought to enter the food chain illegally, are driving the increase.
How can I better protect livestock?
To deter livestock thieves, NFU Mutual advises farmers to:
• Padlock field gates
• Ensure stock is clearly marked and records are up to date
• When possible graze livestock in fields away from roads
• Check stock regularly - and vary times of feeding/check ups
• Consider a high-tech marking system such as TecTracer which puts thousands of coded microdot markers into a sheep’s fleece
• Ask neighbours to report any sightings of unusual vehicles loading sheep
• Join a FarmWatch scheme
The rural insurer has established that there are three distinct types of livestock thefts currently taking place:
• Large scale theft – organised crime with livestock destined for the food chain
• Pedigree – rams stolen for their high value as breeding stock
• Money laundering – organised criminal gangs buying and selling on sheep at auctions to launder money