A van seized by police investigating illegal sheep butchery in Northamptonshire has been examined and eliminated from enquiries.
Northamptonshire Police launched Operation Stock to investigate a number reports of lambs and sheep being killed and illegally butchered in fields during July.
The investigation is linked in with neighbouring forces, including Warwickshire and Leicestershire, which have also seen a number of recent cases of illegal butchery.
After receiving information from Warwickshire Police, on Tuesday, July 30, officers in Northamptonshire issued a message via Neighbourhood Alert to ask residents in the Daventry district to look out for the white Ford vehicle.
Sightings reported by the public allowed officers to track its movements, and after the vehicle was stopped by farmers in Naseby yesterday afternoon, July 31, police attended and seized it after the male driver and passenger, both from Warwickshire, failed to give an explanation for their activities in Northamptonshire. No arrests were made.
An examination by officers revealed nothing to scientifically link the vehicle to Operation Stock offences and it will be released back to its owner and eliminated from enquiries.
Sergeant Sam Dobbs said: “After issuing our Neighbourhood Alert message asking people to keep an eye out for this van we had a fantastic response in terms of sightings and information.
“We acted on this information to stop the vehicle and speak to those travelling in it. As they were not able to explain why they had been in Naseby, or a number of other Northamptonshire villages, officers seized the van for examination, which has shown it is not linked to Operation Stock offences.
“Information from our communities is vital to this investigation and I’d like to thank everyone who enabled us to catch up with this vehicle and rule it out of our enquiries. Please keep reporting any suspicious activity to us by calling 101 and quoting Op Stock, or 999 in an emergency.”
He added a referral regarding the vehicle has been made to Daventry District Council over possible contravention of rules relating to the collection of scrap metal in the area.