FEARS that serial sheep rustlers could be operating in the Llanwrtyd Wells area have been raised after the theft of well over 100 animals.

Two farms have been targeted by what police fear could be knowledgeable and experienced livestock handlers.

Between 65 and 75 ewes of various ages, including yearlings, along with an unknown number of new season lambs, have been reported as stolen from the Eppynt common hill near Cefn Gorwydd.

A further 14 speckled ewes with twin lambs – 42 in total – have also been reported stolen from enclosed ground at a farm in the Cefn Gorwydd area.

Both thefts are believed to have taken place between July 10 and August 23, 2017.

The stolen animals are Eppynt hardy hill speckled type sheep, pitch marked with a blue G, and are wearing blue and yellow coloured ear tags displaying flock number UK720141. All have ear notches above both ears and a hole in each ear, and all have long tails.

PCSO Glyndwr James said: “These kinds of theft have both a financial and emotional impact on farmers, and we are appealing for anyone with information about this incident to get in touch so we can fully investigate the circumstances.

“Livestock thefts, in particular theft of sheep, provide for challenging investigations. Forensic opportunities in livestock investigation can be very limited.

“We therefore rely on people to come forward with information that could lead us to the suspects.

“The people involved must have knowledge and experience of handling livestock, the means to transport them and, if planning to sell them on, knowledge of the markets.”

Livestock theft was identified by NFU Mutual as an “emerging trend” in its recently published 2017 Rural Crime Report – causing increasing fears that meat is entering the UK market illegally after going through unregulated abattoirs.

NFU figures revealed that livestock thefts cost the UK £2.2 million in 2016, down from £2.9 million in 2015. But while incidents have fallen across the UK as a whole, the cost in Wales was up by £100,000.

Anyone with information on the thefts in Cefn Gorwydd, or any other Powys sheep theft crimes, is urged to contact PCSO Glyndwr James or PC Jones at Llandrindod Wells police station, or by calling 101. If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, text the non-emergency number on 07811 311908. Any information provided will be treated as confidential.

Alternatively, phone Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.