WHEATBELT farmers have been left reeling, after a significant number of sheep were reported stolen in the aftermath of last month's bushfires.
Police are investigating livestock thefts from two separate properties in the Corrigin and Bruce Rock shires and have urged people to keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
Bruce Rock sheep farmer Joan Cameron reported almost 200 sheep - including pregnant ewes, two rams and 15 lambs - as missing from her property last week.
Ms Cameron said the crossbred Merino mob was in "very good condition" and estimated to be worth about $50,000.
The mob, which had been shorn in October, was first noticed missing early Saturday morning, when they were set to be shifted into a neighbouring paddock.
The paddock they were allegedly stolen from was out of sight and in between four farms, about two kilometres away from Ms Cameron's home.
"I cannot believe it - it is absolutely devastating," Ms Cameron said,
"We searched the area for four hours, after we noticed they were missing.
"I knew they had been pinched, I just had a gut feeling.
"I have been here 68 years and we have lost a few sheep, but never an entire mob.
"There were signs of distress in the area the sheep had been herded to and taken from."
Ms Cameron said police investigating the theft had identified where livestock were believed to have been pulled up and over the gate.
She said the stubble in the area had been flattened and the fence - which was about 1.5 metres high - now had a bend in it.
Ms Cameron said a lot of sheep had been agisted in the Bruce Rock area since the recent bushfires.
"If it had been a normal year I would have been out there checking if I had seen or heard a vehicle.
"The thieves were so cunning they didn't come anywhere near our house.
"It is bloody disgusting what they have done, particularly after the bushfires."
Corrigin stud Merino breeder Steven Bolt also reported 60 of his top AI ewes as stolen last week.
He said insurance would not cover the loss of genetics out of his business.
"They were right at the top of ewes on the property," Mr Bolt said.
"For me, the genetic value of those top stud ewes is hard to put a value on.
"Commercial value, six months' wool, scanned in lamb, mixed aged ewes - they are well over $300 a unit."
Mr Bolt first noticed the ewes were missing, when preparing the flock for agistment in the week after the bushfires.
However, he did not report them to police until last week, when he revisited numbers again during scanning.
"I didn't say anything because I thought they would turn up," Mr Bolt said.
"I thought maybe they had walked out somewhere, but I have checked every bit of bushland to make sure.
"I have also checked neighbouring properties and flocks in case they were mixed up, after the fires.
"I can't find them anywhere."
Mr Bolt added that given another mob of sheep were reported missing by a nearby property, it was "very likely" his had been stolen.
"I hoped they would turn up somewhere, but it has been four weeks now," he said.
Bruce Rock sergeant Vaughan Webb encouraged people to report suspicious vehicles, trailers and trucks' registration numbers, as well as descriptions of occupants, to their local police station or make an anonymous report to Crime Stoppers WA on 1800 333 000.
Additionally, victims of livestock theft should contact local police, the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or 000 for immediate assistance.
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