UK rural crime increases unabated and farmers in Dartmoor are painting their sheep

Farmers are painting the horns of their sheep to try and beat thieves in Dartmoor where it is reported that rural crime has risen by 40% over the past 12 months. There’s been an increase in animal theft and equipment from farmers in this region of the UK. The equipment includes quad bikes, land Rovers and GPS devices. Theft of livestock continues unabated.

Dartmoor sheep's horns painted green
Dartmoor sheep’s horns painted green. Photo: BBC.

One farmer of Yelverton, Devon, Neal Cole, said:

“Turning up in the morning and finding out your £9,500 quad bike’s been stolen; your sheep are stolen or a dog’s been in there and ripped them to bits is soul destroying.”

Mr Cole is fed up with the struggles that he is having trying to beat thieves. He said:

“We are artists trying to create these lovely animals for the market – for food – and then somebody comes in and sticks a boot straight through it.”

Theft cost farmers £40.5 million last year although crime rates fell during the pandemic between 2020-2021.

The top target is farm vehicles such as Land Rover Defenders, quad bikes and trailers. These are being stolen in record numbers. Livestock rustling has risen as the price of food in supermarkets has soared The Times reports.

As food prices rise in an inflationary market livestock thefts might increase as well. It might lead to contaminated meat entering the food chain according to the NFU (National Farmers’ Union).

The Devon and Cornwall Police are providing farmers with advice about how to use GPS devices, for example, to locate stolen animals. And as you can see by the photograph below, they announcing the use of these livestock tracing systems to thieves.

Tech used to protect against theft
Tech used to protect against theft. Photo: BBC.

There are two other points to mention. Firstly, livestock and farm equipment is very vulnerable to being stolen because farmers have a lot of acreage and it is very hard to protect everything as it is spread out and I guess if they get careless and don’t put equipment into locked facilities it is more likely to be stolen. The thieves are going to select soft targets like farms. Historically there wasn’t much theft of farming equipment and livestock in the past but criminality in the UK has increased exponentially I feel over the past 10 years.

This is mainly during my opinion to an incredibly lacklustre police force who have more or less given up in tackling low-level crime which fosters more serious crime. The criminals – organised crime – quickly become aware that the UK is a soft target and they even come over from mainland Europe and spend a couple of months in the UK pillaging the place and then going back home. The police have a lot to answer for because they are failing the nation in my view.

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