Police are urging rural communities to be vigilant after several incidents of sheep being stolen and illegally butchered, including 19 ewes in a field near Gaydon.
On Saturday (March 9), officers were called to a farm on Banbury Road after the female sheep were killed and butchered in a field, Warwickshire Police said.
Seven sheep suffered the same fate near Wibtoft, Rugby, on March 2, while a pregnant ewe was stolen from a farm in Wasperton, Warwick, at around 1am on March 7.
Rural crime officer Carol Cotterill said: “Theft and illegal butchery of sheep is a serious offence, which can cause suffering to the animals and financial repercussions to farmers.
“Enquiries are currently ongoing into the above 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.”
Similar incidents have been reported in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, and officers are linking in with border forces are part of the investigation.
Ms Cotterill added: “We also ask all owners of livestock and residents who live near fields with livestock in to be extra vigilant and to report any concerns to us.
“There is also concern that if offenders are chasing the sheep before catching them, this may have cause problems with the rest of the flock such as health risks to the ewes and unborn lambs.
“We are warning all sheep farmers to stay extra vigilant, particularly those who have fields in more remote locations. Always ensure gates are locked and are in good working order.
“Members of the public should also be mindful of being offered meat for sale in suspicious circumstances.
“If you suspect someone has attempted to target your animals, or find that you’ve lost livestock in this way, please report it to police immediately.”
Any suspicious activity should be reported to police on 101. In an emergency, always call 999.
Information can also be shared anonymously via Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111 or via their website.
For further advice on rural crime, please see here: www.warwickshire.police.uk/RuralCrime and www.warwickshireruralwatch.co.uk