Police and farmers are taking a joint approach in a bid to tackle sheep theft.
Officers are working with farmers to launch a forensic marking scheme that will see a traceable solution – supplied by SelectaDNA – applied to livestock, the first time this has been used to combat theft of sheep.
It is hoped to be a preventative tool, as well as meaning that in the event of animals being stolen, they can easily be traced back to the farm.
A number of farms in Cumbria have been identified to take part in what will be a 12-month pilot scheme.
Each kit will allow up to 100 animals to be covertly tagged – a process that will be carried out by farmers and police officers.Eden PCSO Karen Dakin said: “Livestock theft is an issue in Cumbria and so I am pleased that we are taking part in this pilot scheme.
“We will be helping the farmers to mark their animals, deploy the warning signs and continue to support them for the first 12 months of the project.
“Notices around the farm will hopefully deter thieves, but where livestock are stolen, the markings will allow us to trace animals back to the farm. We will also be able to do spot checks, including at places like auction marts.
“We continually work with partners to prevent rural theft and this is another example of the positive proactive work we do.”
James Brown, Managing Director of SelectaDNA, said: “Use of SelectaDNA throughout the UK and Europe during the last 12 years has resulted in dramatic reductions in all types of acquisitive crime.
“This type of crime, as well as being extremely upsetting for owners, costs insurers and farmers millions of pounds each year. We already help many rural communities by preventing theft of tractors, quad bikes and other valuable equipment with our DNA marking, and we now want to work with farmers, Police and insurers to put an end to livestock theft.”