A van seized by police investigating illegal sheep butchery in Northamptonshire, with the help of some Northamptonshire farmers - but it has been eliminated from enquiries.
After receiving information from Warwickshire Police, officers in Northamptonshire issued an alert to ask residents in the Daventry district to look out for the white Ford Transit vehicle on Tuesday, (July 30).
Sightings reported by the public allowed officers to track its movements, and the vehicle was blocked in by farmers in Naseby yesterday afternoon (Wednesday) until police arrived.
The force seized it after the male driver and passenger, both from Warwickshire, failed to give an explanation for their activities in Northamptonshire - but no arrests were made.
An examination by officers revealed nothing to scientifically link the vehicle to the recent spate of sheep attacks and it will be released back to its owner and is no longer part of the investigation.
Sergeant Sam Dobbs said the response to the alert was 'fantastic' in terms of both sightings and information, which aided the police's enquiries.
“Information from our communities is vital to this investigation and I’d like to thank everyone who enabled us to catch up with this vehicle and rule it out of our enquiries," he said.
"Please keep reporting any suspicious activity to us by calling 101 and quoting Op Stock, or 999 in an emergency.”
However, a referral regarding the vehicle has been made to Daventry District Council over possible contravention of rules relating to the collection of scrap metal in the area.
Northamptonshire Police launched Operation Stock to investigate several reports of lambs and sheep being killed and illegally butchered in fields during July.
The investigation is linked in with neighbouring forces, including Warwickshire and Leicestershire, which have also seen a number of recent cases of illegal butchery.
The National Farmers' Union estimates suggest that more than 100 sheep have been illegally slaughtered in Northamptonshire since March.
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.