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A colony of bees, thousands of chicks and a pet tortoise: animals stolen in Norfolk revealed

PUBLISHED: 07:43 04 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:03 05 August 2019

A colony of bees and a pet tortoise of 27 years are among the animals stolen in Norfolk since 2013. Picture: Sonya Duncan/Ian Burt

A colony of bees and a pet tortoise of 27 years are among the animals stolen in Norfolk since 2013. Picture: Sonya Duncan/Ian Burt

Archant

A beehive with a colony of bees, 2,500 one day old pheasant chicks, 60 canaries and a pet tortoise of 27 years.

60 canaries were stolen from an aviary in 2017/18. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown60 canaries were stolen from an aviary in 2017/18. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

They are just some of the animals reported stolen from homes, farms and aviaries across Norfolk in the last five years.

It comes as one family still looking for their beloved golden retriever two years after they were left "heartbroken" at the theft.

And NFU Mutual are warning of a sharp rise in sheep rustling as the cost of rural crime is expected to soar.

Daisy had been part of Rita and Philip Potter's family for five years before she was stolen from their Old Buckenham doorstep in November 2017 by two men in a white Nissan Navara.

Family friend Emma Downes has been leading a campaign to find Daisy, and said the theft had been "devastating".

"The whole village loved Daisy because she was always out playing in their garden," said the 38-year-old.

Daisy the golden labrador was stolen from outside an Old Buckenham home in 2017. Picture: Rita and Philip PotterDaisy the golden labrador was stolen from outside an Old Buckenham home in 2017. Picture: Rita and Philip Potter

"It is devastating. It has been nearly two years since Daisy was stolen and they still can't sleep at night, crying at night.

"Their grandchildren are also heartbroken. One of them said to Santa all they wanted for Christmas was Daisy back.

"Personally I do believe she was stolen for breeding purposes because there is such a big money gain from that."

Other crimes in recent years have included thefts of beehives, koi carp, exotic bards and pet dogs.

In 2016/17 a suspect entered a meadow where three beehives were 'wintering' and removed the hibernating bees.

The same year an outdoor aviary shed door was broken, with 65 canaries and 45 eggs stolen.

Around 5,000 wild bird eggs have been seized from a mans home in the Broadland area. Photo: PoliceAround 5,000 wild bird eggs have been seized from a mans home in the Broadland area. Photo: Police

And through 2018 a suspect has been targeting farmland to steal poultry and lambs.

And in May 2018 police seized 5,000 stolen wild bird eggs from a home in Newton St Faith.

Norfolk Police have urged animal owners to increase security, particularly in remote areas, after a rise in sheep rustling.

Sgt Danny Leach, of the rural crime community safety neighbourhood policing team, said: "Animal thefts have been mostly in open areas and are often chickens taken from allotments.

"If you have livestock, even if it is just 10 chickens, they still have monetary value so just think about incorporating security into those vulnerable areas.

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"Dog thefts are often from big, open kennel areas where someone can come up in the middle of the night and they have been taken.

"A lot of chickens get taken, as well as sheep.

"These are really remote areas where it could be a week before someone notices. The more rurral it is the more likely it is for the opportunity to be there.

"We all look at our home security but if you have livestock in a more remote area, research what systems are out there to give you that extra level of protection."

In recent years there has been an 11pc rise nationally in the cost to farmers of sheep rustling, NFU Mutual has warned.

"A generation ago, rustling was typically a local crime involving a couple of lambs or half a dozen geese being taken 'for the pot'," said Tim Price, NFU Mutual's rural affairs specialist. "Now it's an organised crime with dozens or even hundreds of sheep worth thousands of pounds being taken in a single raid.

"Thieves are even using working sheepdogs - some of which have also been stolen - to round up hundreds of sheep which are then loaded into trailers or lorries late at night."

Mr Price added: "Livestock theft is particularly devastating for small farms, as the loss of a number of stock can wipe out profits and disrupt the operation of the farm for years as they rebuild 'hefted' flocks."

Brian Finnerty, of NFU East Anglia, said: "Livestock thefts are an ongoing concern for farmers.

"When they occur the businesses suffers loss of income but these thefts also raise fears about bio-security and food safety if animals are sold on the black market.

"Livestock thefts are still relatively rare in East Anglia, but NFU Mutual figures show that nationally they cost £2.4 million in 2017, with another rise expected when new figures are published on Monday.

"These thefts can be difficult to prevent, especially when grazing livestock are targeted, but advice to farmers from NFU Mutual includes:

·Padlock field gates

·Ensure stock is clearly marked and records are up to date

·When possible graze livestock in fields away from roads

·Check stock regularly - and vary times of feeding/check ups

·Ask neighbours to report any sightings of unusual vehicles loading livestock

·Join a FarmWatch scheme.

"We would also urge the public to be wary of buying meat from unusual sources."

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