Livestock rustlers have stolen 50 sheep from a Dorset farm in the latest such incident plaguing British farms recently.
Dorset Police are appealing form ore information after thieves stole dozens of sheep from a field in Piddletrenthide, near Dorchester.
The large-scale livestock theft happened between 19:30 on Monday 17 August to early morning the following day.
A spokesman for Dorchester Police said: "A nearby neighbour’s dog was consistently barking around 05:00 and it is likely that the theft occurred around this time.
"If you have any information that can assist with our enquiries please contact Dorset Police quoting occurrence 55200123407.
"It is important that you report any suspicious circumstances and this can be done by calling 101 or online."
The incident follows the theft of 71 lambs in Devon earlier this month.
Livestock were stolen from a farm in the Bratton Clovelly area at some point between 5 and 12 August.
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