According to recent figures from NFU Mutual insurers, a sharp rise in incidents of sheep rustling in the UK has transformed the crime from a local issue to a highly organised enterprise worth millions of pounds.
The figures show that in 2018, £2.5 million worth of animals were stolen, which is 11 per cent more than in 2016. In fact, livestock rustling has become the costliest crime to the UK’s farming sector, followed by machinery theft.
Livestock rustling is popular amongst criminals, as animals destined for the food chain and breeding can be highly valuable. Moreover, some criminals use sheep to launder money.
NFU Mutual is suggesting that farmers take precautions, such as padlocking field gates, ensuring stock is clearly marked and accounted for, grazing livestock in fields away from roads and asking neighbours to report any unusual vehicles loading sheep. The insurer also urged farmers to join a local FarmWatch scheme.
Furthermore, farmers and butchers buying stock should check livestock records and ear tags carefully to make sure they are not buying stolen animals. The insurer also advises members of the public to be wary of buying meat from unusual sources, as there may be health hazards as well as a risk they could be buying stolen meat.
A spokesman for NFU Mutual said that livestock theft is particularly devastating for small farms, as the loss of stock can wipe out profits and disrupt the operation of the farm for years as they rebuild ‘hefted’ flocks.
Martin Johnson, General Practice Manager at Milsted Langdon said: “It remains to be seen how this ever-growing sheep rustling issue will be tackled. Nevertheless, farming businesses need to pay close attention to the situation and take into account how this might affect them.”
For more information on how Milsted Langdon can help you, contact Martin Johnson.