A FLOCK of sheep have been rustled in Holmfirth.
And the thieves have been warned: Don’t eat them, you will be poisoned.
Rustlers stole the 23 sheep from a farm in Holmfirth in the second similar incident within weeks.
The sheep, worth about £3,000, were stolen from Upper Woodhead Farm at Cartworth Moor between 2pm last Thursday and 7.45am on Friday.
Owner Brian Duckett said they could not be replaced and issued a warning that they should not be eaten, as they have been given drugs to kill parasites.
He said: “It’s upsetting, but there could be some poorly people out there .
“The sheep had only just been wormed and aren’t fit to be eaten.”
The theft reinforced concerns that thieves are preying on vulnerable rural spots around Huddersfield to exploit the pound’s plunging value.
And fears have been voiced that the problem could get worse as the economic downturn continues.
The animals were all ear-tagged and marked with a green letter ‘D’.
The crime happened not far from a spot where seven pregnant ewes were taken from a field off Dunford Road at the end of February.
Robert Noble, from insurance group NFU Mutual based in Honley, said there had been reports of other suspicious sightings.
He said the rise in rustling was probably down to theeconomic recession.
“We have been made aware of a couple of suspicious incidents unrelated to this,” he said.
“Livestock keepers need to be on the lookout for any suspicious vehicles
“The market price has increased dramatically because of the current exchange rate and that has made sheep more attractive to thieves.
“Rustling is still a relatively rare occurrence. Unfortunately, it could be something that we will see more of.
“Livestock are out in the field and are fairly difficult to keep secure. The only thing owners can do, apart from putting a padlock on a gate, is remain vigilant.”
Text messages have been sent to NFU Mutual members to warn them about the issue.
In the latest incident, the gate to the field was lifted off its hinges without being damaged.
Insp Mark Trueman, of The Valleys Neighbourhood Policing Team, said farmers could join the Farm Watch scheme – similar to Neighbourhood Watch – to keep each other informed of dodgy goings on.
He added: “I would urge anybody who sees people acting suspiciously in an isolated area to contact the police or get registration plate details.
“Any type of offence of this nature impacts greatly on local farmers as they continue to try to make a living.”
Anyone with information about the latest theft should contact Pc Jonathan Eeles on 0845 6060606.