Giving sheep thieves the chop in Tynedale
Dated: 19 May 2011
Police have been taking action to deter sheep thieves in rural Northumberland.
Officers are carrying out Operation Herd - West Tynedale Neighbourhood Policing Team’s response to thefts of sheep and livestock in the area.
Research by the force's intelligence unit has shown West Tynedale accounts for 60% of the reported thefts of sheep in the county in the last three years.
Over the last three years the value of sheep stolen has increased - from £9,000 in 2008, to nearly £13,000 in 2009 and almost £39,000 in 2010.
The Bellingham area has seen the largest number of animal thefts but police have investigated thefts in Langley, Slaggyford and Haydon Bridge.
Operation Herd involves officers working with animal health inspectors and Northumberland County Council officers carrying out high profile visits, patrols and checks.
Officers carry out stop checks on all vehicles and trailers transporting livestock on the roads checking their vehicles, loads and documentation to ensure everything is legal and above board.
West Tynedale Neighbourhood Inspector Dave Thornhill said: "Although we don't see high numbers of thefts of animals and livestock in Northumberland we are well aware just how much of an impact these crimes have on the victims and the rural communities in general.
"Thefts of animals are difficult crimes to solve - there's often very little intelligence as to who the criminals are or where the stolen animals may have been taken and sometimes the time frames that the thefts could have taken place during can be up to months at a time.
"The emphasis has to be on the prevention of this type of crime. We stand a much greater chance of tackling rural thieves if we can catch them in the act - and to do this we need the help of residents, farmers and landowners.
"Take crime prevention steps - mark your sheep, carry out regular checks and counts and ensure all fencing is secure as often as you can. Report any suspicious vehicles, people or behaviour where you live. If you see anything that you're not sure about - a strange vehicle, people you don't recognise, anything out of the ordinary - then ring us and tell us. We'll check anything that is reported to us - and you're not wasting out time.
"Work with us - sign up to community messaging and Farmwatch. Help us circulate information about crimes, suspicious vehicles and other useful information to others in your community - contact the Neighbourhood Team and we'll come out and speak to you about what we can offer.
"We are holding a rural road show event on Friday May 20 at Hexham Auction Mart and I'd urge as many people from the area to come along and meet officers on the day about any rural issues or concerns."
Operation Herd will run throughout West Tynedale over the coming months and into East Tynedale.
The Rural Road Show' will be held at the Hexham auction mart, Tyne Green, on Friday, May 20, from 10am to 3pm.
For more information on the rural event, rural crime or crime prevention advice contact police on 03456 043 043 ext 69191.