Police have put farmers on alert after rustlers stole 79 Rough Fell sheep from a North York Moors farm.
The 41 ewes and 38 lambs belonged to a farm in Castleton and went missing from open moorland during the past few months, police said as they issued a fresh appeal.
The farmer has contacted neighbouring farms, but there is no sign of the sheep.
Most have yellow tags with the number 127821. They also have their left ear notched and two blue stripes across their back.
Anyone with information about the sheep – particularly if they are found in a different location or offered for sale – is asked to contact North Yorkshire Police, quoting reference number 12200165977.
The sheep’s details have been circulated to auctioneers, rural watch groups and other police forces.
North Yorkshire Police’s specialist rural crime officers urged farmers and residents in rural areas to be vigilant.
Speaking earlier this year, Insp Matt Hagen of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce said: “Farmers are doing their best to make a living and keep food on our tables in these difficult times – so having livestock stolen is the last thing they need.
“Livestock theft can be devastating for farmers and their businesses, as well as causing unnecessary suffering to animals.
“If you think you have been a victim, or you have any information about who is committing these crimes, please call us. We take all reports extremely seriously as we work to keep these criminals away from North Yorkshire’s farms.”
North Yorkshire Police advice for farmers
- Ensure your stock is clearly marked, and records are kept up to date
- Consider investing in a high-tech marking system
- Where possible, graze livestock in fields away from roads
- Check stock regularly – and vary feeding and check-up times
- Join a rural watch scheme to share information about rural crime in your area
- Report any suspicious activity to North Yorkshire Police via 101 and ask neighbours to do the same
- Dial 999 immediately if a crime is in progress – do not approach the suspects yourself