A man has been charged with stealing cattle, sheep dogs and farm vehicles worth more than £80,000 during a crime spree across the north-east.
Nearly £30,000 of cattle were taken from Kinellar and Monymusk last summer, while a tractor, digger and trailer worth £34,000 were stolen from the Lumphanan area.
And in January last year, four sheep dogs were taken from a farm in Cairnie, Huntly – though were later reunited with owner Roddy Scarborough.
Last night, police confirmed they had charged a 29-year-old, from the Alford area, in connection with the thefts.
He will appear at Aberdeen Sheriff Court at a later date.
Fourteen of the cattle were recovered, but six have never been found. The machinery has also since been recovered.
Mr Scarborough’s sheep dogs were taken from his farm in the Cairnie area of Huntly on January 27 2016.
The loss of the animals – one male and three females – left him with the prospect of managing 2,000 sheep without them.
To his delight, they were discovered a few days later.
Last night the 57-year-old praised the police for continuing their investigations, so many months on – and admitted he was far more suspicious of people now.
He said: “They have obviously been doing something in the background.
“I would think everybody in the farming community would be delighted to hear this.”
“You are more suspicious with a lot of things going about now. We are having to lock everything up, we never, ever thought about doing that before. I am always watching now.
“The dogs are doing all right, we are busy in the middle of lambing.”
Charlie Adam, National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland livestock committee chairman and north-east cattle farmer, said such crimes were “absolutely despicable” but stressed they were “few and far between” in the area.
He added: “It is virtually impossible to secure livestock, even livestock in a steading. I think one of these things this has done is maybe alerted people, they are less inclined to dismiss anything unusual.”
He suggested each stolen cow would have been worth about £1,500 each, and that some of them not being found would be a “hard one to take” for the farmer affected.
Mr Adam said: “These incidents are few and far between, they are not a regular occurrence.”
Aberdeenshire South local area commander, Chief Inspector Murray Main, said: “We would like to thank the local communities and our colleagues across the country who have assisted with this inquiry as well as our partners, including animal health inspectors and others.
“We will continue to work with all our partners, communities, farmers, land owners and residents in rural areas to ensure they are kept as safe as possible.
“Rural crime can have a devastating effect on its victims and costs farmers and business owners as well as the economy thousands of pounds and Police Scotland is committed to tackling it.”
Detective Constable Chris Riddoch said: “Our inquiries are continuing and I would like to appeal to anyone who may have information in relation to these crimes, or other crimes in the area, to contact us on 101 or if you would prefer to remain anonymous, you can contact the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”