POLICE have warned that the livestock rustling is on the increase in Galloway, with the crime costing the agricultural sector hundreds of thousands of pounds each year.
There are fears that the stolen meat illegally enters the food chain without regard to hygiene, and that the animals suffer a painful death at unlawful abattoirs.
A number of incidents have been reported recently in Dumfries and Galloway and PC Alistair Mitchell of Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary said the livestock was usually taken to order.
He said the thieves hoped to take advantage of the remote and rural nature of some farms and move about undetected.
The animals can then be taken to illegal abattoirs and the meat sold on to restaurants or takeaways or anywhere willing to pay a cheap price.