The theft of 44 lambs from a farm in Dorset has raised concern the meat could be destined for the black market.
Rustlers stole the lambs from a field close to the Sunn Inn, Dorchester, sometime between 11am on Wednesday 25 November and 7.50am on Friday 27 November.
The six-month-old Suffolk and Charollais lambs had no ear numbers, are all shorn and had red markings on them, Dorset Police said.
The force appealed for information and asked residents to check any CCTV footage and vehicles with dashcam footage if they were in the area at that time.
PC Sebastian Haggett, from the Dorset Police Rural Crime Team, said: “We would urge members of the public with any information to get in contact with us.
“Livestock theft is a serious issue and the public are our eyes and ears in the countryside. No matter how small you think your information is, it could be what we need to solve this case. Please get in touch.”
Reg Bevan, deputy head of the Food Standard Agency’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU), sounded a warning about meat that enters the food chain illegally.
He said: “Meat from illegally slaughtered animals isn’t safe to eat and should not enter the food chain.
“We are continuing to work with the police to prevent this from happening. If you’ve purchased or been offered meat which you suspect has been produced illegally, do not eat it and report it to Dorset Police and the NFCU.”
Anyone with information should phone Dorset Police on 101, quoting crime reference number 55200178929.