THREE major incidents of sheep theft have affected Ledbury this year.

22 Texel Cross and Welsh Mule ewes were stolen this year from a farm in Canon Frome. The incident number is 0203S 120219.

20 sheep with green marks on their shoulders were stolen during January from a farm in Tarrington. The incident number is 0288S 010219.

17 in lamb ewes were stolen from a different farm in Tarrington around the January 15. The incident number is 0248S 160119.

If you have information on any of these thefts please ring 101 and quote the incident number.

Livestock theft is incredibly difficult to protect yourself against, and is becoming increasingly common. Thieves often don’t use the main point of access to a field choosing to cut through barbed wire or fence instead. It is a crime that often needs a degree of organization, as dogs are used to round up the sheep and put them on a trailer.

Checking your animals regularly can alert you to their theft, marking the animals can make them difficult to dispose of.

Police have issued advice to help farmers protect their livestock:

Lock the gates: Just use cheap chains and locks – as they may well just chop them off or even go through the fence instead. That said locks will make it a bit more difficult, and the longer they need to be there the greater the chance that someone will see them.

Use landscaping in very vulnerable fields: The theft of animals requires the use of a vehicle. In fields that are especially vulnerable, or if you have lost animals from theft already you could think about using landscaping, bollards, removable cattle grids and the like to prevent vehicles gaining access. Ditches, mounds and hedges will also help.

Use remote alarms: If you can predict the routes the criminals will take, you could consider using an alarm system to alert you to gates opening and closing, or the use of a track.

Distinctively mark your animals: Marking your sheep lets you tell the police something like – “You are looking for the guy with 12 green marked sheep”. Also if the thief is another farmer it is more difficult for him to hide the sheep in his own flock. Tattoos and other marking methods are less effective but at least let you can identify the sheep if they turn up at some point.

Use hidden trail cameras: If you have a field where animals regularly go missing you might consider the use of a hidden trail camera as a cost effective way to get some idea of who is responsible. The top of the range models will even send images to you over the mobile phone network.