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Essex: 600 partridges and 100 turkeys stolen last year, raising concerns about black market meat trade

12:10 13 April 2014

Red-legged partridges

Red-legged partridges

(c) copyright citizenside.com

The number of animals stolen in Essex increased dramatically over the last year, with thieves focussing on high-value game and livestock such as turkey and partridge.

In 2013-14 a total of 600 partridges and more than 100 pheasants and 100 turkeys were also taken in raids on properties in the region.

Farming unions have previously said that the theft of animals raises significant concerns about a black market in meat, as well as representing thousands of pounds of lost income for farmers.

A spokesman for the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) for East Anglia said: “Livestock thefts are a concern for farmers. When they occur the businesses not only suffer loss of income but these thefts also raise fears about bio-security and food safety if animals are being sold on the black market.”

According to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act by Essex Police, more than 5,323 animals have been taken over the last five years.

The highest number of animal thefts took place in 2009 to 2010 and decreased year-on-year, falling to 622 in 2012/13. However, the number of animals taken during 2013/14 more than doubled that figure, hitting 1,299.

As well as the theft of farm animals, pets – ranging from puppies, fish and canaries – were also stolen. The rise of domestic chicken-keeping is also thought to be a factor in the number of fowl taken over the past year - 72 in 2013/14.

The spike in thefts follows a similar increase in Suffolk, reported by the EADT last month.

Essex Police were unable to comment at the time of going to press.

Anyone with information about animal thefts should contact the police on 101.

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