Rustlers steal 100 sheep from Rakaia

A Rakaia farmer is "irate" after rustlers stole an estimated 100 sheep from his Overdale farm, police say.

It is the second major stock theft in the area after approximately 60 calves were stolen from nearby paddocks last December, prompting Senior Constable Mike Jackson to confirm a possible link between the incidents.

Mr Jackson said the latest theft happened overnight on April 23 when about 100 hogget, with an estimated value of $9000, were loaded on to a large truck by a number of offenders near the State Highway 1 and Pendarves Rakaia Road intersection, Overdale.

"We believe that a large truck had to be used to take them away, we are talking a large number of hogget here. We also believe they used a loading ramp that was in the paddock to get them on to the truck," Mr Jackson said.

"The farmer is absolutely irate, and frustrated about it."

Stock rustling has been highly documented in Canterbury over recent months, with Federated Farmers claiming it costs the country up to $120 million a year.

Mr Jackson said reported stock thefts were not common in Mid Canterbury, but guessed many cases went unreported, particularly when "just the odd one goes missing".

Rustling is classed as general theft, but offenders found selling meat on the black market can be charged under the Animal Products Act, facing up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Mr Jackson was at odds to explain what had happened to the stock, and had no major leads.

Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairwoman Jeanette Maxwell said in yesterday's Guardian column that court punishments did not got far enough for rustlers, some who brutally killed stock.

"Hopefully the major Canterbury rustling ring broken by police will see a much stiffer punishment if the offenders are found guilty," she said.

Information related to the Overdale stock theft can be reported to Rakaia police on 03 302-7009 or anonymously on Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

By Myles Hume of the Ashburton Guardian

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