POLICE investigating the organised theft of Swaledale sheep in County Durham and Cumbria are hoping to return nearly three dozen seized animals to their rightful owners.
An investigation into sheep rustling by both forces has so far seen six people arrested and 150 sheep recovered, which are thought to have been stolen from hill farms across the north Pennines, mainly in Cumbria and Teesdale.
Over the last few weeks a number of sheep have been positively identified as stolen by their owners, with a number of others being classed as ‘doubtful origin’. This means the farmer carrying out the examination could not be positive as to the ownership of the sheep as it was not one of theirs.
Durham Police have therefore arranged a viewing day for farmers who have lost Swaledale sheep to examine those seized animals, all of which are ewes.
It will take place between 10am and 12 noon on Friday, 8th November, at H&H Auction Mart in Kirkby Stephen.
The most recent action saw police recover two sheep after searches of moorland south of the A66 last Friday.
Anyone with information relating to the enquiry should contact Det Con Debbie Morrison or PC Harry Marsh at Barnard Castle police office on 101, any farmers in Cumbria who have concerns can make contact with PC Roly Earl from Appleby Neighbourhood Police Team, again by ringing the non-emergency 101 number.
“The theft of sheep poses a major problem for farmers, with each animal being worth £100 to £150. We have organised the viewing session so that we can start returning the sheep we have recovered to their rightful owners,” said PC Marsh.