Throughout November and December, a number of livestock thefts have been reported to Gardai in Wicklow. The local sheep farming community have had enough and say that the problem is becoming more frequent in recent times.
Farmers in Donard, Hollywood, Aughavanagh and Blessington have all been subject to thefts in the last few months. Cousins Louie and Laurie Harney are missing 41 sheep between them at present with the animals believed to have been taken from close to the base of Lugnaquilla around October.
Meanwhile, Tom Stephenson, a sheep farmer from Donard suffered the loss of 29 lambs during an overnight theft in October.
One of the current issues for An Garda Síochána is the lack of access to the Sheep Flock Register system. The lack of access adds an additional layer of complexity to the issue of identifying potential rustling or suspicious activity in, on or around the location of livestock.
Figures recently released indicate that over 1100 sheep across the country have been reported stolen in the last two years up to Dec 2022 with approximately 350 of these in Co. Wicklow. At an average cost of €170 per animal, this could amount to a combined loss of as much as €187,000. With the costs of living every increasing and food prices increasing across the board, the black market will inevitably experience growth. This is a worrying trend for many.
Gardai are encouraging anyone who experiences livestock theft, no matter how small to ensure to report it along with any suspicious activity in, on or around farm lands.