Thieves on the lamb

Lambs, ducks, goats, even pigeons, have been seized in a spate of B.C. robberies

A gang of animal thieves appears to be on the loose around Langley and Abbotsford, B.C., where farmers have reported a spate of barn break-ins. Suspects have made off with lambs, ducks, goats—even pigeons. “I’ve been doing this job 2½ years,” says Cpl. Holly Marks of the Langley RCMP, “and it’s only in the last six months” that it’s become a real problem. In neighbouring Abbotsford, the police department now has an officer assigned to investigating livestock theft, a position that wasn’t staffed in 2010, according to Const. Ian MacDonald.

The most recent incident took place in Langley on March 23, when two separate break-ins were reported: one farmer lost 17 lambs, and another lost five. (One lamb apparently escaped the robbers, and was found in a neighbour’s yard.) On Feb. 28, six ducks, 65 chickens and some feed were stolen from a different farm, which was also targeted in late December when 17 ducks went missing. Abbotsford saw four goat thefts in February and March, with a total of 17 animals stolen, MacDonald says. Most bizarrely, in February, up to 4,000 pigeons were taken from three different farms. “That was a real head-scratcher for me,” MacDonald says: at about $7 per pigeon, “the value per pigeon is much lower than goat.” The vast majority of the stolen goats were female, and could fetch “several thousand dollars” through breeding, he says.

No charges have been laid, but police have some leads, especially in the “pigeon scenario,” MacDonald says, where there was an eyewitness. As for the missing lambs, one of the animals was a rare, rusty red colour, “very distinguished,” Marks says, which could help to identify them if they appear at auction. Langley locals wonder if stolen lambs might end up on unwitting buyers’ dinner tables at Easter.

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