Man arrested in Northamptonshire sheep slaughter probe

Officers carrying out searches Image copyright Northamptonshire Police
Image caption Officers have carried out searches of four properties in Coventry as part of the probe into the sheep killings

A man has been arrested in a series of police raids probing the illegal killing and butchering of sheep.

Earlier this week, thieves stole 65 ewes from a field in West Haddon, Northamptonshire, which police are linking to other attacks at farms.

Officers from Northamptonshire and Warwickshire raided four properties in Coventry on Saturday.

The 39-year-old man from Coventry was arrested on suspicion of theft and criminal damage.

Police are connecting the West Haddon theft to a string of incidents in Northamptonshire, which has seen 81 lambs and sheep killed and 258 stolen since February.

Officers believe the animals which have been killed - many of them butchered in the fields where they were grazing - are then being sold illegally to restaurants and shops.

Image copyright Northamptonshire Police
Image caption Environmental health and trading standards officers were involved in searches of the four properties in Coventry

Trading standards and environmental health officers were also involved in the searches.

The raids were carried out as part of Operation Stock, which is investigating the illegal slaughter and theft of sheep across the county.

It is linked to similar inquiries in neighbouring counties, including Warwickshire.

The Northamptonshire force has been using a drone as part of its night patrols and has distributed 150 warning signs to farmers and landowners.

Police are urging people living in rural parts of the county to remain vigilant.

Image copyright Park End Farming
Image caption Farmer Phil Neal shared this graphic image on Facebook after 14 of his lambs were butchered in July

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