Canterbury couple counting losses after 55 calves stolen

Canterbury couple counting losses after 55 calves stolen

A north Canterbury famer is counting his losses after discovering 55 bull calves were stolen from his farm.

Swannanoa farm owner Chris Payne says the thieves come onto his property in the early hours of Wednesday and took the calves away in a truck.

"Would have been Wednesday morning, my mother-in-law was on her way to work and noticed the ropes down," he says.

"I drove in thinking they'd got into the cauliflowers next door... didn't take long to work out that they'd been rustled."

Mr Payne said he was notified that someone was seen in his property early in the morning.

"I had a phone call from a person up the road that had seen a truck coming in here at [3:20am] on their way to work," he says.

"We're worried about their welfare to be honest... money and other things don't seem to matter so much when you're lying in bed at night thinking about it.

"It's a pretty bold and brazen theft. It's organised and well thought out - [it was a] bit of a serious operation."

The farmer says they didn't have insurance and estimate the loss to cost them more than $25,000.

"It's our livelihood and our business. It's what we do. And someone's just come in and pinched them."

Mr Payne's fiancée Taylor Newcombe says the animals are tagged and identifiable. 

"They have nicknames or they have certain markings on them that means we can tell them [apart] from each other," she says.

"To the point even if someone found our calves, we would be able to say they were ours."

The theft has also meant a deeper consequence for the couple; they've had to postpone their wedding, which was planned for January. 

"As soon as we found out, we decided to postpone our wedding," she says.

"That was obviously because this is a huge financial strain on us."

The theft comes after more than 500 cows were reported missing from a farm south of Ashburton in late August.

That theft cost the owners a loss of more than $2 million, because the cows were in calf and grazing.

Police have since shelved their inquiry into the alleged theft due to a lack of evidence.

Police are urging farmers to review their business practices, systems and auditing processes and make note of checking all potential employees' references and backgrounds before hiring.