Cattle thefts in border area of ‘epidemic’ proportion

October 19, 2015

There has been a marked spike in the reported thefts of livestock from farms in the border area with more than 3,500 animals reported stolen in the last three years alone.

The revelation was made by Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill recently, in response to an Assembly question from UUP MLA Danny Kennedy.

The Minister revealed that since 2012, 1,850 animals were reported stolen to the Newry Divisional Veterinary Office (DVO) while the Armagh DVO recorded a total of 1,684.

Under the Cattle Identification (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2012, keepers must report cattle that are lost or stolen in writing to DARD within seven days of the event being noticed.  Information on stolen animals or animals reported as missing is kept on the Department’s database, the animal and public health information system (APHIS).

Minister O’Neill said the PSNI actively investigates reports of stolen cattle and said anyone who suspects that an animal has been stolen should report it to the PSNI as soon as possible so that a full investigation can be carried out.

Responding to Mr Kennedy’s assertion that the proximity of the border “is clearly not a coincidence” and questioned the involvement of “crime gangs”, Minister O’Neill ssaid she would support any action that helped to remove the criminality that is in our society.

“That is an issue that has been raised consistently; I have raised it at the North/South Ministerial Council.  Whilst we have joined-up working between the PSNI and an Garda Síochána, there are opportunities for us to work more effectively together in dealing with any criminality, whether in relation to any type of rural crime or, in this instance, cattle theft,” she added.