Metal thieves in Lincolnshire are thought to have inadvertently let a herd of cows loose when they stole 700m of wire along a road earlier this month.

Police officers in the area made the information public in a bid to raise awareness of the signs of a potential metal theft.

The metal was stolen from fences along the High Road area in Barrowby at some point overnight on September 12.

A police spokesman said: "Following this incident, we also had calls from people reporting a number of cows being loose in the street in Barrowby, and a further call from a resident reporting cattle having been trapped in their garden, causing damage.

It is believed that the thieves let the cattle out when stealing cables. Officers are warning that escaped cattle - especially overnight incidents - could be a sign of metal theft.

It follows a number of incidents reported in the area, officers are urging residents to be vigilant and to report any suspicious sightings that could be related to this inconvenient, costly and destructive crime.

In a separate incident on September 14, thieves attempted to steal cables from underneath a manhole at around 2:00am on Horncastle Road in Boston.

Spot the signs

Officers are asking the community to remain vigilant and report any signs.

They include:

  • Animals seeming to have been deliberately let out;
  • Damage to land;
  • Locks having been tampered with;
  • Discarded cables or cable covers.

Chief Inspector Phil Vickers from Lincolnshire Police said: "When we see rising prices of scrap lead, copper and steel we often see a corresponding increase in theft.

The sheer number of incidents we are dealing with make a pressing argument for looking at what security you have in place and making sure that you are making it difficult for these criminals.

"We will investigate thoroughly and welcome each and every piece of information you have about suspicious individuals or vehicles in your area.

"Metal theft can cause significant damage to local communities and livelihoods so please call '101' if you have any detail that could assist in our enquiries. Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers.

"We have a thriving Farm and County Watch Scheme in this county which would be nothing without the very dedicated local people who are signed up to it, and feed into it. Please speak to us if you are interested in joining, or sign up online."