Farming News - Gang which slaughters sheep to strip them of meat hits another farm in 'horrific' overnight raid
Gang which slaughters sheep to strip them of meat hits another farm in 'horrific' overnight raid
A gang is killing sheep and stripping them of their meat in "unprecedented and horrific" raids across three counties.
The gang members, some of whom have butchery skills, have been targeting livestock across Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire since the beginning of the year, the National Farmers' Union (NFU) believes.
The latest incident happened this week on land off the A5, on the outskirts of Lutterworth.
The owner of the livestock contacted police on Monday morning after finding the remains of nine sheep in one of their fields.
Earlier this month, nine sheep were found similarly mutilated in a field in Clipston, near Market Harborough.
James Peck, spokesman for the NFU in the East Midlands, said: “These are unprecedented, horrific crimes being carried out by an organised gang of criminals who appear to have an operation with an outlet to sell this illegally slaughtered and stolen meat.
"Those farmers who have been affected are devastated and the wider farming community is extremely concerned at the scale of the problem.
"We’re calling on local farmers to be the eyes and ears of the police and report anything suspicious.
“There is a real risk to human health from eating meat from carcases processed outside of a licensed abattoir which has not been inspected by a vet and meat hygiene inspector.
“We’re urging shoppers to buy meat from a recognised source – and the best way of doing that is by looking out for the UK health mark and the Red Tractor logo which means the product is traceable, safe and farmed with care.”
A farmer in the Lutterworth area said: "It's horrendous. People are extremely angry and extremely worried.
"Thieves have stole livestock before, but these people are slaughtering sheep in the field, which is new.
"I assume they are hanging the animals up, slitting their throats and removing the meat. It's all very professional.
"Someone must be buying this meat, otherwise this wouldn't be happening.
"There is no animal welfare here and none of the care taken around the preparation
"I would urge people to help stop this by refusing to buy any meat from these people."
A Warwickshire Police spokesman said that the sheep in the Lutterworth were killed some time between 4.30pm on Sunday and 8.50am on Monday.
He added that the meat had been taken from the sheep, and that there had been no arrests at the moment.
Earlier this week, Northamptonshire Police, which is investigating a series of similar offences, reported that a 40-year-old Hampshire man has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and theft.
He was later released from custody but remains under investigation.