The police are once again cracking down on trucks and vans on highways, but this time they’re not looking for robbers or smugglers. They’re in search of a flock of sheep and goats stolen from a local farmer this weekend.

Illustration/Uday Mohite

What’s really got the farmer’s goat is that not only has he lost all his livestock, but many of them were special breeds that would have fetched a handsome profit. The police are on the lookout for 29 animals — 11 goats, 10 lambs and eight sheep — worth Rs 70,000 in all.

Shankar Dattu Chavan (23) runs an animal farm at Mahu village, in the Wadgaon Maval area of Pune.

“Every day, around 9 am, I take the herds to the field for grazing and then they are returned to their pen. On Saturday afternoon, I brought them back from pasture and locked them in the pen. The next day, I went back around 7 am and was shocked to find all the sheep, lambs and goats missing,” said Chavan.

When he could not find them, he lodged a complaint with the Wadgaon Maval police station that night.

“The animals are my bread and butter. I have suffered a huge loss, as I had different breeds and some of them were rare in the market. I had the Usmanabad breed, which is in huge demand in Mumbai, Pune and western Maharashtra for its wool and meat, while some sheep were snow-white, which are in demand in north Maharashtra. This is the peak time for the business, since the festive season will begin soon,” he added.

Inspector Vijay Jadhav of Wadgaon Maval police station, which falls under the Pune rural police, said, “We suspect the goats, lambs and sheep were robbed by a person known to Chavan, who may have known his routine. We are keeping an eye on nearby slaughterhouses and are also checking trucks, vans and other transport vehicles to find the animals and nail the robbers.”