POLICE in south Shropshire are stepping up efforts to trace sheep rustlers following a spate of thefts.

Officers are carrying out spot checks on livestock vehicles and working with other agencies to trace stolen carcases at meat processors.

The actions follow an increase in thefts of lambs in the area.

Last month, dozens of lambs were stolen from a field in the Corvedale prompting calls for residents to report suspicious activity especially sightings of lambs being loaded into vehicles.

In particular, police have urged people to record the registration numbers of suspicious vehicles.

“Following this recent increase in lamb thefts, the police are working with Shropshire Council public protection of ficers making spot checks on premises where meat is processed or sold, including wholesale butchers,”

said Sergeant Adrian Woolley.

“Officers are also stopping vehicles thought to be carrying livestock or game.

“We suspect that the rise in meat prices has fuelled this type of crime and we also suspect that the slaughtering could be happening in residential areas.

“The police are also appealing for information regarding random sales of meat in pubs as well as details concerning the identities of those responsible for the thefts.”

Anyone with information can contact Ludlow police on 101.