Page last updated at 20:14 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 21:14 UK

Hundreds of pigs stolen from farm

Pigs on the farm before the theft
Neighbours said they saw a van being driven suspiciously by the farm

More than 500 pigs have been stolen from a farm in south Staffordshire.

The animals, all less than five weeks old, were stolen from Packington Fields Farm, known for its free range pigs, in Hopwas near Tamworth on Thursday.

Farmer Rob Mercer, who estimates the piglets to be worth more than £25,000, said there had not been a theft of pigs on this scale for many years.

It is thought the thieves broke down a fence, walked half a mile to the pens and herded them into a truck.

Mr Mercer told BBC News that the animals would be difficult to conceal.

"It's not easy at all as they will be on a farm somewhere - whether that's a large commercial farm or whether that's a smallholding somewhere," he said.

"They will be in a shed somewhere being fed and reared up for selling in five months time, so it's difficult to hide."

Neighbours said they heard a commotion and saw a van by the farm being driven suspiciously.

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