Illegal sheep butchery: drone with thermal imaging camera used to watch over Northamptonshire livestock

Thermal images of livestock in fields next to the A428 in East Haddon taken by a police drone - sheep and road traffic show up in yellow as heat sources. Photo: Northamptonshire Police
Thermal images of livestock in fields next to the A428 in East Haddon taken by a police drone - sheep and road traffic show up in yellow as heat sources. Photo: Northamptonshire Police

A police drone is being used to keep an eye on livestock overnight in Northamptonshire as an investigation into a spate of illegal sheep butchery across the region continues.

Drone operators can monitor large rural areas by using thermal image technology and flying up to 400ft, with any heat sources such as animals, people or vehicles shown up in bright yellow.

If any suspicious activity is spotted, the operators can liaise with officers on the ground to check it out.

Operation Stock was launched after dozens of lambs and sheep were killed and butchered on farms across the county last month, with the investigation supported by officers from numerous departments.

The drone patrols are being carried out alongside ongoing ground patrols and community engagement by officers, who are also linked in with neighbouring forces who have seen similar incidents.

One arrest on suspicion of criminal damage and theft has been made so far, a 40-year-old Hampshire man on July 24 - he remains released under investigation.

Northamptonshire Police is reminding anyone who sees anything suspicious to call 101 quoting Operation Stock, or 999 in an emergency.