Richmond sheep thefts have farmers anxious

Published in 24 Hours Vancouver | September 11, 2013 | Circulation: 251,700

Sheep farmers across the Lower Mainland are watching their flocks a little more closely after six sheep were reported stolen from a temporary pen in Richmond Tuesday.

The sheep were part of a flock of 31 kept in a commercial district around the 8100 block of Alderbridge Way. While police say they haven’t seen many other such incidents in Richmond, farmers say it’s been a growing problem in the last two years.

“Producing sheep is not a very profitable business,” said Barbara Ydenberg with the Lower Mainland Sheep Producers Association. “Lots of people aren’t so much doing it for profit — it’s a lifestyle.

“It’s distressing because we have enough problems with four-legged predators. To think there’s somebody out there unethical enough to come onto your farm, round up a bunch of your animals, and haul them away, adds another level of concern to the whole thing.”

RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Stephanie Ashton said police are seeking witnesses and wondering how such skittish animals were able to be stolen.

“It’s not like you can just pick them up and walk away,” Ashton said. “At this point, we have no suspects, no witnesses, and no one called us to say they saw six sheep wandering down the road or being loaded into a truck.

“It’s theft of property, but it’s also theft of cattle, which is a serious offence. It’s an indictable offence (that) can carry up to a 10-year jail sentence.”

Ydenberg suggested the stolen sheep could be marketed to restaurants illegally.

“It’s a huge underground business.”

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