More than 100 sheep have been stolen or illegally butchered in Warwickshire since the start of the year.
Incidents of sheep and lambs being stolen and butchered have continued to be reported with an attempted lamb theft happening last weekend.
This has prompted fresh appeals from Warwickshire Police for people in rural communities to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activities.
Since January around 29 sheep or lambs have been reported as stolen with one lamb being recovered and there was also an attempted theft in Wootton Wawen on Easter Sunday.
Around 80 sheep or lambs have been illegally butchered across the county.
It’s reported that similar incidents have also happened in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, and officers are linking with border forces as part of the investigation.
Police have said that there has been some positive results recently with the arrest a man near Rugby on April 16 who had a dead sheep in his car and thanks to the vigilance of farmers and the public there have been several reports where offenders have been disturbed.
Carol Cotterill, Rural Crime Officer at Warwickshire Police said: “Theft and illegal butchery of sheep is a serious offence, which causes suffering to the animals some of which were in lamb or with lambs at foot and financial repercussions to farmers.
"Enquiries are currently ongoing into the incidents and we would urge anyone who has witnessed any suspicious activity or has any information that could help with our enquiries to please come forward.”
George Bostock, NFU Warwickshire assistant country adviser, said: “The illegal slaughter of animals is abhorrent and we would urge anyone with information to get in touch with the police.
“Rural crime has a serious emotional impact on farming families as well as the disruption and financial burden it brings.
“Midlands’ livestock farmers rear animals to exceptionally high welfare standards and all of our members care about their stock; to witness this at home, during lambing season, is absolutely appalling.
“Shoppers should always look out for the Red Tractor logo and other assurance marks on the food they buy as it guarantees food quality, safety and standards.
“The NFU will continue to work with Government, police forces and Police and Crime Commissioners to work towards solutions that allow farmers, who already feel isolated and vulnerable, to be better protected.”
Police believe that these incidents are more likely to happen on clear nights when there is better visibility from the moonlight - in particular when there is a fuller moon.
Officers also think that people may be visiting the area beforehand in daylight to plan, parking a vehicle where they cannot be seen and that they are choosing quiet secluded locations near to main roads.
Police are warning all sheep farmers and rural communities to stay extra vigilant and have provided the following advice:
~ If you own livestock or live near fields with livestock in please be extra vigilant and report any concerns to police
~ Report suspicious vehicles to police
~ Where possible graze livestock in fields away from roads
~ Review any weak points in fields in remote locations in particular where sheep are grazed near a main road
~ If your field is down a quiet track consider parking a vehicle to block access
~ Padlock field gates and ensure gates and boundaries are in good order
~ Consider checking your sheep on clear nights, in the early hours of the morning
~ Join the Rural Watch scheme
~ Set up a Whatsapp group to share information
~ Consider grazing other animals with sheep to deter offenders
~ Contact your rural crime adviser to discuss crime prevention notices, cameras etc
~ Put your safety first and dial 999 if you believe an incident is in progress
Warwickshire Police is urging the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity by calling 101.
Information can also be emailed to northwarksruralAlerts@warwickshire.pnn.police.uk in confidence or via Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111.