Figures show less than 2% of stolen cattle in Fermanagh and Tyrone are recovered in three years

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Lord Morrow has described the level of cattle thefts in Fermanagh & Tyrone over the last three years as ‘shocking’ and the recovery over the same time frame of just 1.7% as ‘appallingly low’.

The DUP peer said he had expected high figures when he asked this question but not the totals which have been supplied.

He added: “There have been 3251 cattle stolen or reported missing in the last three calendar years to date, and of that a mere 57 – equivalent to 1.7% - have been recovered.

“With figures of 1431 and 1209 respectively for 2013 and 2014 and recoveries of 29 and 24 for each year, it is clear the public are only being alerted to these thefts in some but not all instances.

“The 2015 statistics show a welcome drop to 611 but it’s still far too high and the recovery of four cattle is appallingly low.

“I note DARD have no way of finding out of the details of theft investigations and I would therefore call on more active engagement from the PSNI. It is vital the community are made fully aware of these crimes and their outcomes. It could go a significant way to enhance detection, awareness and determent,” he added.

“I am however concerned there is no such reporting mechanism for sheep thefts as exists for cattle. These farmers have been badly targeted too and the lack of a departmental reporting mechanism could be seen as an enticement for sheep thieves as there is less made public of such activity.

“Overall I repeat my previous concerns that there needs to be enhanced co-operation between police forces and processing plants. There is no way these animals are simply evaporating into thin air. They are being targeted by experienced thieves. There has been a sizable lack of prosecutorial action also and therefore the deterrent factor in absent. All persons who handle stolen livestock, including the thief, the transporter, and the processor need to be prosecuted and much more stringent monitoring of movement instigated urgently.

“I reiterate, these figures relate solely to Fermanagh & Tyrone. I intend pressing the minister to release the corresponding figures for the rest of Northern Ireland.”