Stolen pregnant sheep safely returned to owner

The sheep in the back of a van Credit: Avon and Somerset Police

Police have returned five stolen sheep to their owner.

The pregnant ewes were found in the back of a Transit van which failed to stop for officers on the A403.

The van was found abandoned nearby with the sheep inside.

While officers were making enquiries to trace the animals’ owner, a report came in of the theft of five sheep from a field in Almondsbury, Gloucestershire.

The ewes have been positively identified and returned to their owner and an investigation continues into the theft.

The van was found to be without insurance and on false number plates.

Neighbourhood Sergeant Darren Warr said: "We take livestock theft very seriously and have an Avon and Somerset Rural Crime Team which focuses on tackling this and other issues affecting the rural community."

"As well as having a significant impact on farmers and smallholders there are animal welfare, health and hygiene issues which make this sort of crime a concern for the wider public."

"Criminals are not likely to follow the strict guidelines on transporting and slaughtering animals before selling them into the food chain. We ask anyone involved in the supply chain for meat products, especially for human consumption, not to create a market for stolen livestock."