POLICE are investigating reports of a group of people trying to ‘butcher’ sheep on an East Lancashire farm.

Steven Walker, of Hoghton View Herefords, a cattle breeding company in Hoghton, posted on social media about three men trying to catch his sheep at 1.25am on Monday.

He issued a warning to fellow farm owners and said: “Three men tried to butcher our tups in the garden.

“Luckily our tups are lively lads and the commotion awoke us and the men were scared off.

“CCTV shows how close they were to succeeding.

“Please be vigilant especially in the Blackburn or Preston area.”

This Is Lancashire:

Mr Walker released two short clips of CCTV and it shows men, who were dressed in hoodies, appear to attempt to grab the sheep and trying to catch them.

Officials from Chorley Police are set to contact Mr Walker about the incident.

Sgt Paul Harrison said: "We are looking to speak with the aggrieved person and fully investigate the matter.

"There is no current trend to this crime.

“There are various reasons why people commit crimes of this nature so we want to establish who the offenders are and find out the motive for this crime.

“In the meantime we ask for the rural community to remain vigilant and contact us if there are any activities of a suspicious nature.”

This Is Lancashire:

NFU North West Communications Adviser Carl Hudspith said: “Unfortunately thieves do target animals and we would urge farmers to take extra security steps if possible including locking gates and ensuring outbuildings are secure.

“At the end of the day it is very difficult to secure open fields in isolated parts of the countryside.

"But rural communities are tight knit and the key message has to be one of vigilance and to report anything out of the ordinary to police officers.”

Call police on 101 with any information.