The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has said its officers are investigating the theft of seven cattle from Ballyward in Co. Down.

The force said a padlock had been cut off the gate to gain entry to an outhouse during the theft.

The theft occurred on the Drumgooland Road area of Ballyward, near Banbridge, Co. Down, and is believed to have taken place between 10:00a.m on Monday, August 7, and 6:30a.m on Tuesday, August 8.

Police reported that seven Friesian cattle were discovered to be missing. They are red and white and black and white in colour.

The PSNI confirmed to Agriland that enquiries are continuing in relation to the investigation and it is continuing to appeal for information.

The force urged anyone who can assist in the investigation to contact it on 101 or provide information anonymously via Crimestoppers.

Livestock theft

According to a recent rural crime report from NFU Mutual, incidences of livestock theft rose by 8.7% across the UK in 2022 compared to the year before.

The rural insurer said livestock theft remains “one of the costliest crimes to farming”.

NFU Mutual said it regularly received claims involving over 50 sheep taken in a single raid, meaning that livestock theft can also have a “devastating impact on breeding lines”.

As well as this, the company said, the theft of livestock is a huge worry to farmers, who care about the welfare of the “stolen stock”.

The rural crime report was published at the start of the month and revealed that the cost of rural crime in Northern Ireland rose by 50.7% last year to £2.5 million.

At the time, the president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), William Irvine, said the results of the report were disappointing, but not surprising.

The UK as a whole experienced a rise of 22% in the cost of rural crime, and Irvine said it was “particularly concerning” that Northern Ireland had an increase of 29% more than the rest of the UK.

“At the root of the crimes that did occur are farming families who have suffered financially and emotionally because of a criminal intrusion on their farm,” he said.