A farm watch scheme has been launched in west Wales in a bid to tackle the growing spate of sheep rustling caused by rising lamb prices and the recession.
Dyfed-Powys Police, Ceredigion County Council and farming unions NFU Cymru and Farmers Union of Wales are urging farmers to be vigilant and report suspicious activity following a “significant increase” in sheep thefts in recent months.
According to recent figures, thieves are targeting farms across Britain at almost double the rate they were at the start of the year.
Almost 33,000 sheep have been stolen so far this year across the country, compared with 38,095 for the whole of 2010, said rural insurers NFU Mutual.
But that number could be higher, as a third of farmers are not represented by the company.
The increase has been blamed on the soaring cost of sheep meet, with the price of minced lamb rising almost a third over the past three years.
The National Sheep Association said sheep now sell for an average of £75 – more than double the price three years ago.
In a bid to tackle the spate of rustling, Dyfed-Powys Police said officers would set up patrols and increase the number of vehicle stops.
It has also called on farmers to pool their inside knowledge so they can report any suspicious behaviour around their area.
Adrian Evans, FUW Ceredigion county executive officer, said joining the free Farm Watch scheme would help improve communications between farmers and police.
“Sheep thefts in Wales have escalated significantly in recent years and many of our members have suffered major losses,” he said.
“We need as many people involved as possible to establish a two-way flow of information where all suspicious activity is reported.”
• Have you noticed an increase in thefts in your area? Do you have any tips for protecting your property? Share your stories on the fwi forums.
• You can also track and report crime on our special FW Crime register.