Ewes and lambs at grass© Tim Scrivener

More than 48 sheep have been stolen in three incidents within a five-mile radius in North Yorkshire over the past week.

North Yorkshire Police received a report that 14 ewes and 22 lambs had been stolen from a farm in the Horton-in-Ribblesdale area of Craven on 18 September.

The stolen animals have a blue line down the back of the leg and carry the ear tag number UK 125 089.

See also: Fleeced: Police failure to tackle sheep rustling exposed

Before this, 12 sheep were reported stolen in the Austwick area on Saturday 9 September, and another incident, during which an unknown number of sheep were taken, happened in the Settle area the day before on 8 September.

Sheep theft statistics

Despite this recent spate of thefts, North Yorkshire Police’s latest statistics reveal the average cost of sheep thefts in the county has reduced by a third since 2015.

In 2015, 3,091 sheep were taken, in an average of 3.5 incidents a month, costing farmers £121,940, or an average of £2,900 per incident.

In the first five months of 2017, the number of sheep stolen stood at 2,228, though the total cost is put at £23,661, equivalent to £1,971 per incident.

However, NFU Mutual estimates many farmers do not report the crime to police, so the true cost could be much higher.

Anyone with information relating to the incident on 18 September is asked to ring 101 quoting incident 216 of September 18, 2017.

Thefts across the country

  • More than 100 sheep were stolen from two farms near Llanwrtyd Wells between 10 July and 23 August. Between 65 to 75 ewes along with a number of lambs were taken from land known as Epynt common, and 42 animals from another farm in the Cefn Gorwydd area.
  • Between 20 and 21 July 60 lambs were stolen from a farm in the Lofthouse area in North Yorkshire. Ten lambs were taken from a property on the B6161 Otley Road near Beckwithshaw, North Yorkshire, the preceding week.
  • In Perthshire 134 sheep, worth £10,000, were stolen over a nine-month period from a farm near Comrie. The blackface ewes and hoggs were taken sometime between September 2016 and June 2017.