Abbotsford Police believe they are homing in on a group of people responsible for a rash of livestock and fowl thefts throughout the Fraser Valley.
Const. Ian MacDonald said the Abbosford Police Department’s livestock enforcement officer (LEO) has identified “people of interest” in the thefts of chickens, pigeons, ducks, goats and sheep.
The thefts began last fall at farms in Abbotsford, Langley and Chilliwack. The most recent ones occurred overnight Sunday at a farm in the 500 block of Gladwin Road in Abbotsford, where 325 chickens and eggs were stolen, and on Tuesday in the 33700 block of Vye Road, where tools and $5,000 worth of chickens were lifted.
“We think it’s an organized group of people who have a certain knack for livestock and the resale of livestock,” MacDonald said.
He said the culprits either sell the animals for slaughter, or through auctions and online sites – avenues through which buyers would not know the creatures were stolen.
He said the thieves are generally targeting smaller operations that might not have as many security measures as larger sites.
As well, they tend to have some “inside knowledge” of the farm. For example, two pigeon farms hit in the last few months were going through transition and nobody was on site.
One was in the process of being sold, and the operator of the other had recently passed away.
The two sites were among three hit in November and February, resulting in the heist of 5,300 pigeons that are sold as meat – known as squab – for $4 to $10 each.
Also this year, close to 20 Boer goats were taken from a property on Downes Road in Abbotsford on four or five separate occasions.
A series of livestock thefts were reported to the Langley RCMP in March, including 22 lambs, six ducks and 65 chickens from three properties. One of those farms was also targeted in December and had 17 ducks taken.
A farm in Chilliwack was hit in November, when seven pregnant goats – each valued at between $500 and $700 – were stolen. Six of them were later located on a property in Langley.
At the time, Chilliwack RCMP estimated that 60 goats in total had been swiped from the community.
MacDonald said the rash of thefts resulted in the Abbotsford Police creating the LEO, a position that did not previously exist, and issuing a warning to local farm operators.
Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call Abbotsford Police Department at 604-859-5225.