Police are hunting a gang of thieves who pulled off one of Scotland’s biggest ever livestock raids.

Rustlers stole up to 400 prized Cheviot sheep and ewes from fields at an Aberdeenshire estate.

The livestock, worth around £40,000, were taken from the 10,000-acre Littlewood estate near Huntly between February and June.

Farmer Alistair Hay, 59, said: “I’ve only got about 100 left, it’s been going on since February. One day I got a call about one of our sheep, which was found about 10 miles away.”

Grampian Police said it was not able to confirm how many sheep had been stolen, but investigations were continuing.

“I’ve only got about 100 left, it’s been going on since February. One day I got a call about one of our sheep, which was found about 10 miles away.”
Alistair Hay

A force spokeswoman said: “We are investigating the theft of more than 100 sheep, but the farmer is claiming there could be up to 400 missing.

“The thefts have been going on since the start of the year. They appear to be repeat thefts. It has been difficult to pinpoint exactly when the thefts took place as the land is so spread out.”

Anyone with information can contact Grampian Police on 0845 600 5 700 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Last month, rural insurer NFU Mutual revealed that there has been a 45% increase in the cost of farm crime in Scotland last year, costing £1.79m.