Here is how you can help farmers who are struggling with rise in sheep thefts and illegal butchery

Police and members of the farming community met at a farm near Rugby today, April 25, to speak about the serious impact that the spate of sheep thefts and illegal butchery is having.

More than 100 sheep have been stolen or illegally butchered in Warwickshire since the start of the year, with the most recent incident being with an attempted lamb theft last weekend.

Sheep at the farm near Rugby.

Sheep at the farm near Rugby.

A leading police officer, a farmer and a representative of NFU Warwickshire met at a farm near Harborough Magna today to speak of the impact the criminal activity is having and to urge members of the public to help.

It is reported that similar incidents have also happened in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, and police are linking with border forces as part of the investigation.

Police have said that there has been some positive results recently with the arrest a man near Rugby on April 16 who had a dead sheep in his car - and thanks to the vigilance of farmers and the public there have been several reports where offenders have been disturbed.

Police believe that these incidents are more likely to happen on clear nights when there is better visibility from the moonlight - in particular when there is a fuller moon.

Officers also think that people may be visiting the area beforehand in daylight to plan, parking a vehicle where they cannot be seen and that they are choosing quiet secluded locations near to main roads.

Police are warning all sheep farmers and rural communities to stay extra vigilant and have provided the following advice:

~ If you own livestock or live near fields with livestock in please be extra vigilant and report any concerns to police
~ Report suspicious vehicles to police
~ Where possible graze livestock in fields away from roads
~ Review any weak points in fields in remote locations in particular where sheep are grazed near a main road
~ If your field is down a quiet track consider parking a vehicle to block access
~ Padlock field gates and ensure gates and boundaries are in good order
~ Consider checking your sheep on clear nights, in the early hours of the morning
~ Join the Rural Watch scheme
~ Set up a Whatsapp group to share information
~ Consider grazing other animals with sheep to deter offenders
~ Contact your rural crime adviser to discuss crime prevention notices, cameras etc
~ Put your safety first and dial 999 if you believe an incident is in progress

Warwickshire Police is urging the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity by calling 101.

Information can also be emailed to northwarksruralAlerts@warwickshire.pnn.police.uk in confidence or via Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111.