Home Legal Cornish Mutual : warns of increase in sheep rustling cases

Cornish Mutual : warns of increase in sheep rustling cases

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South West based insurance firm Cornish Mutual believes the high-price of lamb could lead to a marked increase in the number of claims for sheep rustling being received.

Since the beginning of the year the company, which is based in Truro and has offices in Exeter, has dealt with a number of cases linked to animals being stolen. Recently it handled a claim for the theft of eight sheep in the St Ewe area of Cornwall. Cornish Mutual says that some claims are still being settled, but final payouts could run into thousands of pounds. The increase has prompted the company, which has Members across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset, to raise awareness of the issue – it also comes after some high-profile cases in North Devon recently.

“It could be that the high-price of lamb is having an impact on the recent spate of sheep rustling claims,” says Alan Goddard from Cornish Mutual, “We have only started to get claims for sheep rustling in the last six months or so. A ewe going for mutton can fetch around £100 these days and store lambs can go for around £60, which is a lot for sheep.”

One case near Bodmin involved the theft of 27 lamb ewes during the night earlier this year – the ewes were grazing on common ground near the farm when they vanished with the only conclusion being that they were rustled. The sheep were very close to lambing and worth around £135 each.

Another incident near Chulmleigh in Devon involved the theft of 32 Fat lambs during the daytime from near Chawleigh village worth around £85 each. Owner Stephen Parish runs a smallholding and keeps a small herd of pedigree ruby red cattle and lambs.

He adds: “It makes you wonder if you can keep your sheep in the same field again. It was a sense of shock – I couldn’t believe it. It was muddy at the time and I could see immediately they they’d been herded up in the gate place. If your fences are good and your gates are good, there isn’t a great deal you can do to prevent it. I know of one farmer who had his gate locked and that didn’t stop them.”

Roger Hosken, loss adjuster with South West Claims Service handled this claim on behalf of Cornish Mutual. He reported a ‘well conducted operation’ by thieves using a ‘competent’ dog exploiting a blind through-lane adjacent to the field where the lambs were kept. Rustlers opened the gate before driving the sheep down the lane to a blind spot, not overlooked by other properties, where they were loaded onto either a small lorry or large trailer.

Roger says there has been a significant increase in the number of sheep rustling cases over the last eighteen months: “I’ve been a loss adjuster for many years and have seen at least twelve cases across the two counties this year. Overall, the sheep trade has hardened over the last six months and there’s a direct link between the value of the animals on the open market and an increase in sheep rustling incidents.”

Source: Cornish Mutual Press Release