Rustlers steal 16 cattle while Armagh farmer ill in hospital
A family in Armagh has been left devastated after livestock was stolen from their farm while the owner was in hospital with pneumonia.
The 16 cattle were taken from the property of 62-year-old Gilbert Dougan at Barkers Road, Newry, some time between Wednesday, January 11 and Friday, January 13.
Four additional cattle were found wandering in a nearby field.
Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy said the incident had caused considerable distress to the family, describing the thieves as "cruel and opportunistic".
And party councillor Jim Speers added: "It's shocking. Firstly that someone would steal cattle, but also that someone would do it when the man who owns them was in hospital.
"It's time to get to grips with the criminals operating in this sort of field.
"I've met the police in the past in relation to this with other public representatives.
"But this is an issue that doesn't seem to go away.
"At one time it will be rife in one locality, then there's a period of calm.
"Then it will happen in some other area before a period of calm arrives there.
"So, it's obviously well-orchestrated and co-ordinated."
Mr Dougan's daughter Emma told the website Armaghi: "We'd be so grateful for any help we can get.
"Daddy is sick with pneumonia and this is the last thing he needs right now.
"The yard was locked up with a chain but it was cut open by whoever went in."
Just days later a personalised tractor belonging to the Black family was also stolen around 15 miles away at Edenavey in Armagh.
The 1973 red Massey Ferguson 135 was taken from a yard sometime between 7pm on January 14 and 8am the following day, police said.
The registration number is LVA 714L.
The family have appealed for assistance in recovering the treasured possession.
Describing the theft as "absolutely despicable", Mr Kennedy appealed to users of social media to look out for the vehicle and to contact police with any information.
Anyone with information should contact police on 101, quoting reference 591 and the date 13/01/17 about the cattle, or 386 and the date 15/1/17 regarding the tractor.
You can also call the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.