Brazen thieves have stolen 500 dairy cows worth $1m from Ashburton farm in Canterbury New Zealand.
In quite an unbelievable case of rural crime, it is thought the cows were stolen over a period of time in batches of 40 to 50.
The farm normally runs a herd of 1,300 cows but staff didn’t really catch on as it was hard to miss such small numbers missing in such a large herd. Pennie Saunders, an administrator for the farm, said they noticed last week that "things weren't adding up as cows were coming back in."
She said: “We're absolutely gutted. It's just disbelief. Forty cows at a time out of a mob of about 500 to 600, visually, it's hard to pick that. "We're not very hopeful of getting them back. Chances are their tags have been removed, which makes them pretty much impossible to trace.
“The phenomenal theft was first noticed in late August but could have taken place earlier. "It's significant, it's huge, there's no joking about it. We're now focused on coming up with a farm management plan on how to manage it, to be able to cope.
"We're not wanting to be a sob story, just if anyone knows anything about it then get in contact with the police." Investigations into the huge theft are ongoing so the staff are hesitant to say any more about it.
The cows were spread out around the farm over winter and brought back in as they neared their calving due date, according to the staff. It was only then the staff started counting the cattle and noticed hundreds were missing.
There have been reports of other thefts in the area as well. Over 120 cattle were taken from three different South Canterbury farms last December while another farm in Alford Forrest lost 52 Friesian bull calves. One farm south of Hinds lost 17 grown dairy cows and 36 cows disappeared from a Mayfield farm. Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury president Willy Leferink said a cow theft ring was operating because of the high meat price.