Farm vehicle spot-checks target livestock rustling

Farm vehicles and trailers transporting livestock were stopped as part of a joint police operation tackling rural crime. 

Avon and Somerset Police pulled over 15 vehicles at the Cartgate services on the A303 near Yeovil on Friday morning (18 March).

Vehicles including horseboxes, livestock carriers and trailers were checked as part of an initiative aimed at raising awareness of livestock theft, safety and welfare issues.

See also: Brave farmer helps police convict sheep thieves

Officers checked the condition of animals and tags and drivers had the correct paperwork relating to livestock transport.

calves inside lorry

© Avon and Somerset Police

The operations saw police team up with Trading Standards officers, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (AHPA) for the day.

Rural crime officer PC Katy Drabble said: “We’re well into the start of the lambing season now, which last year saw a rise in livestock theft in Avon and Somerset.

“We’d like to thank the public for their co-operation. We know this sort of check is an inconvenient delay to their journey, but we hope they will understand why it’s necessary.”

According to rural insurer NFU Mutual, more than 88,000 livestock were stolen in 2014, costing farmers an estimated £6.3m.

PC Drabble added that officers also gave advice on vehicle safety and crime prevention tips.

She said: “We also stopped a number of Land Rover Defenders in order to make sure they knew that recently these sought-after vehicles have been targeted by thieves, so they can take steps to secure them properly.”

Police have asked people living in rural communities to keep an eye out for unfamiliar vehicles loading livestock at unusual times.

Anyone who sees a livestock rustling crime in progress is urged to dial 999. In addition, anyone with information on livestock theft should contact local policing teams via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Top tips to tackle livestock rustling

  • Padlock field gates and take time to inspect outside fences
  • Ensure stock is clearly marked and records are kept up to date
  • Visit your livestock every day but vary the times you do this
  • Where possible, keep livestock away from roads to make it harder for rustlers to strike
  • Keep an eye out for suspicious vehicles – if you see an unfamiliar vehicle moving slowly, it may be somebody scouting out your livestock
  • Join a FarmWatch scheme

(Courtesy of NFU Mutual)

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