A COLDINGHAM farmer believes he has fallen victim to sheep rustling after 43 of his lambs and 10 sheep have gone missing in the past three weeks.
Stuart MacGregor, who farms South Fallaknowe Farm, first became aware of the theft at the weekend after checking the fields where the lambs and sheep usually graze. And although he has lost a number of animals over the years, he said nothing prepared him for losing so many in one go.
“I’d heard there’d been a spate of rustling up Dunbar way,” he explained to ‘The Berwickshire News’.
“But I’d never heard of any going missing in this area and none of the neighbouring farms have reported any problems.
“We have lost a few lambs in the past; some were taken from a pen in a shed but we’ve never had any taken from the fields.
Stuart and his family have looked after livestock at South Fallaknowe for 23 years now and he is adamant that sheep rustlers are to blame for the theft of the sheep and the lambs, which were just a few months old after being born during lambing season.
“There is just no other explanation for losing that many,” he added.
The Berwickshire agricultural industry has been a frequent target for criminals in recent years, with theft of fuel particularly common. Just this week, police received reports of red diesel being siphoned from a vehicle in Longformacus.
Livestock rustling costs the agricultural industry around £250,000 a year and a police spokesperson urged farmers to be vigilant and not to hesitate in getting in contact with them should they have concerns about any suspicious activity.
He said: “The Scottish Borders is a safe place to live, work and visit, however, we do occasionally have thefts from farms whether it be machinery, livestock, fuel or scrap metal.
“We would urge farmers to take security measures on farms at all times to make it tougher for criminals to access sheds and property.
“Farmers can contact their local police station for security advice if required.
“Farmwatch is a great resource, which can be used by farmers and police to share information about possible criminality in and around the farms in our area.
“Farmwatch also provide security advice to farmers to reduce the risk of them being the victim of crime.”