An Aughnacloy farmer has spoken out about the hell of being targeted by cattle rustlers, who appear able to defy the latest police crackdown.
Declan Corley spoke of his anger and frustration after he had 13 cattle worth in the region of £15,000 stolen from his farm.
The herd were targeted by cattle rustlers in the vicinity of the Derrycourtney Road between Aughnacloy and Caledon sometime between 5pm on Tuesday and 11am on Wednesday.
The cattle were all between 12 and 18 months old and were still some way off from being ready for slaughter.
“It’s a devastating blow for us to be honest because I have spent over a year rearing these cattle and then this happens and all that work is for nothing,” he said.
“The theft really knocks the heart out of you and the worst thing is that there’s nothing really that can be done to prevent cattle being stolen.
“Whoever did this must have had some local knowledge because the field isn’t visible from the road. You make a big investment in these cattle for over a year, then this happens. To be honest it’s not easy to get up and start again.”
Police have launched a crackdown against cattle smugglers in the South Tyrone area after it emerged that the district has one of the highest number of livestock thefts in the North.
Barclay Bell, vice president of the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU), has said cattle rustling was a recurring problem in the south Tyrone area, with hundreds of cattle disappearing in the past few years.
The UFU vice president said it was difficult to understand the level of theft, given the rules on livestock identification, registration and traceability.
“Despite all current regulations, where everything is traceable from day one, I suppose we just wonder if a lot of these livestock disappear across the border.”
The PSNI is investigating the incident and appealed for anyone who may have seen suspicious vehicles in the Caledon area at the time to come forward with information.