Rutland farmer’s anger as rustlers take 81 sheep

Bob Sewell with his son John at Manor Farm in North Luffenham. Thieves stole 81 sheep from one of their fields. Photo: MSMP090914-003aw EMN-141009-102809001
Bob Sewell with his son John at Manor Farm in North Luffenham. Thieves stole 81 sheep from one of their fields. Photo: MSMP090914-003aw EMN-141009-102809001

A farmer has expressed his disgust at the thieves who stole 81 of his sheep, potentially costing him more than £20,000.

Rustlers took the ewes from one of Bob Sewell’s fields off Lyndon Road, North Luffenham, between 3pm on August 17 and 10am on August 28.

Mr Sewell, 65, who runs Manor Farm in North Luffenham with his family, could not hide his anger at what had happened.

“This is someone linked with or part of my profession and they have got a very good sheepdog,” he said.

“If they were well organised they could have done it in less then 10 minutes.”

Mr Sewell said the sheep themselves were worth about £1,250. But they were taken just weeks before breeding, having had a full course of vaccinations. As a result the possible loss of lambs next year could cost in excess of £20,000 - a figure which does not include the time and money spent rearing the sheep.

Mr Sewell said: “It’s almost like losing a child. It makes you sick in the way that it’s been done.”

He added: “It worries you because the sad part is we are going to stop having animals. You just say that’s enough, we will plough everything up.

“That isn’t right. Who wants to see green fields without animals in them?”

Mr Sewell said it was expensive to increase security on his fields. He added: “All our extremity gates are locked. But what’s a lock to these sort of people?

“We do have stealth cameras, but they are elsewhere. If it had been four or five weeks before, the cameras would have been at the entrances and we would have picked them up.”

Mr Sewell has several cameras that use infra black light to pick up movement. But each camera costs £300.

“How much more do we try to do?” he said. “We can’t cover the whole farm 24-7.”

Police are investigating the theft, but there was no CCTV at the field and so far no witnesses have come forward.

Mr Sewell is one of more than 80 Rutland farmers signed up to the county Farm Watch scheme, which was launched last month.

Those who sign up can report any crimes or suspicious activity. The message is then sent to all members instantly, warning them to be alert and on the look out.

Once his sheep were stolen, a message went round alerting all those signed up. PCSO Steve Houghton, who leads the Farm Watch scheme, said police were looking for accomplished criminals.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this was organised,” he said.

“As soon as we heard, it went straight out on our Farm Watch system. This is why, touch wood, we haven’t had any other large thefts.”

Spokesman for the National Farmers Union in Rutland, Alison Pratt also said the criminals were likely to be part of a big operation.

She added: “The sheep could well have been slaughtered and put on the black meat market, and that is dangerous. There are all sorts of health and safety issues.”

Police are still appealing for witnesses to the theft. If you saw anything, call 101 quoting crime number LR/01135/14-0.