A SPIKE in livestock thefts in the Yorkshire Dales has been reported by hill farmers.
The theft of vital breeding stock in the Craven area of North Yorkshire is estimated to have cost £122,104.
Ingleton Sergeant Mark Hill, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “The implications of this are that a large amount of meat is probably being used for human consumption but slaughtered in unregulated premises, meaning both public health and animal welfare issues.”
In Craven alone, 25 reports of livestock thefts have been recorded since May 2013 – mainly sheep, worth around £80,000, and also some cattle.
Sgt Hill said that there were probably victims of livestock thefts who did not report them, so the figure could be higher. He added the rise in thefts could be a result of the recession.
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Two local farmers from the Keasden area, Colin Price and George Wallbank, have both had sheep stolen several times in the last 20 months. Sgt. Hill added: “This is a serious financial loss and one that will have an impact on their flocks for several years, as young breeding sheep stolen would have been providing them with replacements and an income from the lambs sold.
“They cannot get insurance against the theft and this makes the losses even more acute.
“Hill farming is a tough way to make a living and these crimes make it even harder.”
North Yorkshire police are working with Trading Standards, The Foods Standards Agency, Environmental Health and the National Farmers' Union to combat the rural crime.
They urge anyone who has any information about people stealing livestock or offering meat for sale that they think might be illegal to get in touch.
“Any time we’ve had results in these sorts of cases has been from someone ringing in with information,” added Sgt Hill.
The public can contact North Yorkshire Police on 101.