NFU Mutual reports that livestock theft has risen by nearly 20 per cent

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New figures released by rural insurer NFU Mutual reveal that farm animals worth £3m were stolen from UK farms in 2019.

Large-scale sheep thefts over the past two years have contributed to a 19.4 per cent rise in value since 2017, making rustling the most costly crime for the UK’s farming sector after agricultural vehicle and machinery theft.

Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Rustling has always been an aspect of farming but ten years ago we would rarely see claims of more than a dozen sheep taken in one go. We are now regularly getting reports of fifty to a hundred sheep being taken in a single raid and it is devastating for farmers as they deal with the aftermath.”

“As well as causing untold suffering to sheep, which may be in lamb when they are stolen, rustling is causing high levels of anxiety for farmers who have built up their flocks over many years.

“Rustlers are getting more skilled and organised, quickly loading sheep onto trailers and lorries late at night. We are concerned that gangs are now using working sheepdogs, which have also been stolen, to get the job done.”

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