One person has been arrested in the West Midlands as police raided four addresses as part of an investigation into the slaughter and illegal butchery of sheep.

Officers from Northamptonshire Police and Warwickshire Police executed warrants at addresses in Coventry earlier on Saturday (August 10).

The activity is part of Operation Stock, the Northamptonshire Police investigation into a number of reports of illegal sheep butchery and theft across the county, which is linked to similar investigations in neighbouring forces, including Warwickshire.

Senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Johnny Campbell, of Northampton CID, said: “This morning’s job has entailed around 25 officers from Northamptonshire and Warwickshire forces, including a specialist search team.

“Their searches will continue today, both of the premises attended and associated vehicles. We are running this as a multi-agency joint enforcement operation, with partners here from Trading Standards and Environmental Health.

“This enforcement operation demonstrates how seriously we are taking this crime series, and how intent we are on catching those responsible and bringing them to justice.”

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Head of rural crime at Northamptonshire Police, Inspector Tracy Moore, is overseeing Operation Stock, which involves officers from the force’s Rural Crime Team, Neighbourhood Policing Teams, CID and intelligence departments.

She said: “Today’s activities represent just one element of the extensive work underway as part of our investigations into illegal butchery and sheep theft.

We have been able to carry these warrants out thanks to intelligence received as a result of our teams working together and also with other forces.

"There’s a huge collective effort underway both within Northamptonshire Police and with our partners in investigating these awful crimes.

“This effort will continue as we work to bring those responsible to justice, and I’d like to thank our rural communities and partners for the support and information they continue to provide.

“All information has value so please continue to let the police know about any suspicious activity in and around livestock or in rural areas.”

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Warwickshire Police Rural Crime Inspector Allison Wiggin added: “We would like to reassure the rural community that everything is being done to tackle this crime.

“This joint operation is a really positive step and sends a clear message to would-be offenders that we are determined to stop the offences and bringing those responsible to justice.

“We will do this through regular targeted operations and by working closely with neighbouring forces and partners to share best practice, intelligence and information.

“Whilst Warwickshire Police has put in place Operation Hillman to address the theft and illegal butchery of sheep, the importance of communities remaining vigilant, reporting anything suspicious in or near fields of livestock cannot be underestimated. Thank you to those that have done so already, it has been a great help.”

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The warrants were executed at properties in Ransome Road, Fynford Road, Foleshill Road, and Eld Road, Coventry.

A 39-year-old Coventry man arrested on suspicion of theft and criminal damage remains in police custody.

Further incidents

The force also confirmed an incident of sheep slaughter in the south of the county is being linked to its ongoing investigation into illegal butchery.

At 5:40pm on August 4, a report was received about the butchery of six lambs at a property on the county border with Oxfordshire.

The theft of 15 lambs in Hollowell on August 7, is also being linked to the investigation.

Those with information can call Northamptonshire Police on 101. The latest incident numbers are 19000410722 (illegal butchery) and 19000416400 (Hollowell theft). In an emergency, always call 999.