Investigation into rural crime has become a hit after police in Somerset launched a livestock intelligence campaign to help the ‘fight against livestock theft’.
The Avon and Somerset Police rural crime team joined forces with West Country Crimestoppers to encourage the public to ‘come forward’ with information about suspected livestock theft.
Police said the campaign is hoped to better prevention and detection.
Insp. Jo Mines, who currently leads the police rural crime team, said this type of information could be the ‘missing piece to the jigsaw’.
She said: “We get a lot of people saying ‘oh the police know who did it’ but actually, if people do not help us, we don’t always know.
“In January we launched a text number and collaborated with Crimestoppers to reassure people that we know you do not necessarily want to speak to us, but talk to them.”
Insp. Mines said livestock theft was often a seasonal crime and was a ‘big issue’ last year. Avon and Somerset police alone received reports of around 600 sheep stolen in one month.
But with lambing season underway, she hoped a ‘final push’ would reassure people to give any community intelligence about suspected rural crime to the police.
The force has also recently followed in the footsteps of Lancashire police with a scheme to seize animals and ‘a list of people’ they ‘can ring at 3 o’clock in the morning’ if they have found 50 missing - or suspected stolen - sheep.
Communications officer Miriam Brown said they had encouraged more officers to get to grips with livestock theft after what she said was previously a ‘nightmare’.
She added: “It is now much easier for the average cop to look for and question rural crime – they know what to ask and what to look for.
“If we need to or are going to seize animals, there will soon be somewhere to put them.”
Anyone with information in the Avon and Somerset area is urged to text 81819 with intelligence on rural crime or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.