BRAZEN thieves stole 178 pigs from a Frodsham farm by bundling them into a lorry in the dead of night.

Farmer Jess Warburton said the commercial premises on Hatley Lane had been targeted by professionals who used bolt-cutters to access the shed.

Police are now appealing for anyone with information on the pig-rustling incident to contact them immediately.

Jess took to Facebook to urge people to share the appeal in a bid to snare the culprits.

She wrote: “The site was subject to a professional raid – bolt cutters were used to gain access to the shed and loading bay and what is thought to be an articulated lorry (possibly cattle/sheep truck) used to take the pigs.

“The thieves knew exactly what they were looking for and took the biggest pigs from the batch.

”The police are involved and have been on site but clearly the urgency now is trying to identify where the pigs have gone so that we may be able to catch those responsible.”

Police were called to the scene shortly after 7.30am on Monday, September 11.

Officers found that unknown offenders had forced entry into a pig farm, using bolt cutters to gain access to the shed, a spokesman said.

Once inside the building the suspects loaded 178 pigs into large vehicle, possible a professional stock carrier, before fleeing the scene.

The incident is believed to have occurred sometime between 6pm on September 10 and 7am on Monday, September 11.

Detective Constable Iestyn Lewis-Jones, of Cheshire Police, said: “We treat all reports of rural crime extremely seriously and are committed to doing everything we can to make our rural communities safer.

“Investigations in relation to this incident are currently ongoing and we are following a number a number of lines of enquiry; early indications suggest this incident may have been a targeted burglary.

“As part of the investigation I’m keen to hear from anyone in the local area who believes they may have witnessed anything suspicious on the night this incident occurred.

“I’d also like to urge other farmers in the local are to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity immediately by contacting us on 101.”

Anyone with any information in relation to the burglary is asked to contact Cheshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 111 of 11/09/2017. Information can also be passed anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.