A man has been arrested as a police investigation into a spate of illegal sheep butchery across Northamptonshire continues.
Dozens of lambs and sheep have been killed and butchered for their meat on farms in Crick, Whilton, Clipston, Kelmarsh and Rushton over the past three weeks.
On Wednesday (July 24), a 40-year-old Hampshire man was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and theft as part of Operation Stock - he has been released under investigation.
Detective Inspector Johnny Campbell, the senior investigating officer for the operation, said: “We’re taking this fast-moving investigation very seriously with a dedicated team following a number of lines of inquiry into these awful crimes.
“One man arrested in connection with these incidents has been released under investigation, with inquiries ongoing as our investigators and the rural crime team work tirelessly to bring those responsible to justice.
“We’re receiving lots of intelligence into CID regarding Operation Stock and I’d like to thank everyone who has reported suspicious activity to us.
"These reports are vital to our work and I’d urge anyone with potentially relevant information to contact us via 101 or online.”
Farmers and their families have been horrified to find the butchered remains of their livestock in Northants and neighbouring counties, while a lamb was tied up with electrical fencing in Moulton.
The National Farmers' Union estimates suggest that more than 100 sheep have been illegally slaughtered in Northamptonshire since March.
Police have been carrying out forensic examinations and dedicated rural patrols, as well as organising a meeting with around 130 farmers and issuing warnings about buying meat to raise awareness.
Inspector Tracy Moore, rural crime lead at Northamptonshire Police, added: “We’re aware of the impact these dreadful incidents have had on our farming community, and our dedicated Operation Stock police patrols continue around the clock.
“We’re also working with partners and the community to provide reassurance and advice, including the distribution of livestock warning signs kindly funded by the office of the police, fire and crime commissioner.
“Our neighbourhood policing and rural crime teams are working closely with investigators in CID, and I’d repeat our previous messages to encourage anyone who sees anything suspicious to call us on 101 quoting Operation Stock, or 999 in an emergency.”