A warning has gone out to Northamptonshire's rural communities after 10 sheep were illegally butchered in their fields in the past two weeks.
Two farms - one near Northampton and one in Daventry - have been hit by criminals who are killing and professionally butchering sheep on their land.
Northamptonshire Police is urging rural communities to look out for and report any suspicious activity.
On February 28, officers were called to an incident in Whilton, near Daventry, where five sheep were found to have been killed and professionally butchered in their field.
Then, in the early hours of Wednesday morning (March 6), a farmer in Harpole, Northampton, discovered five pregnant ewes had been killed and partially butchered before the suspects were disturbed and fled.
To help protect livestock and catch those responsible, rural crime officers at Northamptonshire Police are urging people who live and work in rural locations to report anything suspicious they see.
PC Abbey Anstead said: “To find animals have been killed and butchered like this is not only very upsetting for farmers but also has financial repercussions.
“If you see something that strikes you as unusual, out of the ordinary or just a bit ‘off’ please let us know by calling 101 or making a report online.
“Please don’t worry that it’s a silly or trivial detail, as even a small piece of information may be a vital key that allows us to link other reports and bring those responsible for illegal activity to book.
“We also want farmers to be aware that this has been happening. If you suspect someone has attempted to target your animals, or find that you’ve lost livestock in this way, please report it to the police immediately.”
The neighbouring police forces of Warwickshire and Leicestershire have also recently had reports of sheep being illegally butchered in a similar manner to the Northamptonshire incidents.
Information can also be shared anonymously via Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555111.