Sheep graze at a farm in Great Doddington, England, 60 miles north of London, where sheep theft is on the rise as thieves cash in on an increase in the price of lamb. - 

Adriene Hill: You've probably heard about the rash of metal theft that's been happening around construction sites and foreclosed houses. People strip the metal and sell it. This next story is the rural version of that trend. Instead of stealing metals, thieves are after animals.


Turns out in Britan, people are snagging Sheep. More than 60,000 animals have been grabbed-up in the UK this year - three times the usual number.

Marketplace's Stephen Beard bah-rings us the story.

Stephen Beard: Grazing sheep adorn the English countryside, but with lamb prices soaring the sheep are also a juicy target for thieves. As Farmer Robin Dean told the BBC, his entire flock of pregnant ewes was spirited away one night.

Robin Dean: Annoyed as much as anything that somebody had actually taken them. You know, they are sheep after all, they're my livelihood.

Beard: Most farmers have their sheep insured, but Ben Briggs of the Farmer's Guardian magazine, says the sheep thefts are nevertheless distressing.

Ben Briggs: Farmers have an emotional attachment to them and if they think they're going into the food chain, inhumanely slaughtered, illegally butchered, then that can have a big impact on the farmer on a personal level.

Beard: Some of the thieves have even slaughtered and butchered the sheep in the field, leaving the fleece and carcase and behind.

I'm Stephen Beard for Marketplace.