Livestock theft awareness scheme launched in Devon

Rekord Media 15.07.2021. NFU Mutual case study (L to R) – PC Martin Beck (Devon & Cornwall Police

(L to R) – PC Martin Beck (Devon & Cornwall Police Rural Crime Team), Dartmoor farmer Colin Abel, and Kerry Hogan, NFU Mutual - Credit: Rekord Media

A new awareness campaign is being launched to encourage residents and countryside visitors to help fight rural crime and livestock theft in Devon. 

Rural insurer NFU Mutual is joining forces with Devon & Cornwall Police to fund the Devon Livestock Initiative, in response to ongoing regular thefts of sheep in remote areas.

The project’s key aim is to encourage people to report suspicious activity to local farmers when they are out and about in the countryside. It is initially being launched on parts of Dartmoor and if successful will be rolled out across Devon and Cornwall where farmers and parishes have theft concerns and would like an opportunity to work together.  

The Devon Livestock Initiative will provide farmers with gate signs which include the times that stock are normally moved and ask members of the public who see sheep being moved outside these times, to call a displayed phone number for a local farmer or the police on 101. The initiative is part of a wider project to trial a range of security measures to prevent and detect livestock theft.  

PC Martin Beck of the Devon & Cornwall Police Rural Crime Team, said: “The signage campaign is not just about the farmers, it is as much for those in our communities who live, work and pass our farms every day. We will be contacting parish councils and visiting other groups and community leaders in those pilot areas to help spread the word on how we can prevent theft together. Letting people know about the signs and helping them understand more about farming in their local areas can really make a difference in reducing and preventing theft. “We want to help educate people. Some thefts take place during the hours of darkness while others will happen in broad daylight. You may not actually realise you are witnessing a theft or crime taking place so by putting these signs up, it helps to raise awareness of those activities which are out of the ordinary. This will help the community know what to look out for and, importantly, how to report it. We need to send a clear message to criminals that livestock theft will not be tolerated, there is every chance someone will see you and communities are joining forces to stop it.”