A young farmer has slammed yobs who he believes have broken into his field in South Tyneside twice - leaving him scouring the area for his flock.
Aaron Whitehouse spent hours searching for his livestock after they vanished from his one-acre plot in Hebburn.
The eight Shetland ewes and one ram were bought with £700 he got for his 21st birthday - just a week ago.
He keeps them on land he is renting in the town’s Mill Lane, with the intention of rearing lambs for sale - but has now been forced to call in police to try to catch the culprits, who he believes are local youngsters after his enclosure was broken into.
Mr Whitehouse, from Hebburn, says those responsible have smashed through 4ft-high specialist metal livestock wire, some of which has been stolen and he has also caught yobs throwing rocks at his animals.
He said: “I want those responsible caught. They are ruining my livelihood.
“These incidents have left me spending hours searching South Tyneside for my sheep. I shouldn’t be having to do this.”
“I’ve studied how to look after sheep and worked on a farm for the past few years. I’ve wanted my own sheep for a long time and spent all my birthday money buying them. I just want to be able to get on with my job.”
He added: “I’ve only had the sheep a week and have had this problem twice already. I just want to be left alone.
“I did catch three youngsters throwing rocks at the sheep but when I spoke to them, they were just abusive.
“They have been coming here to drink and cause trouble – it’s time something was done about it.”
Mr Whitehouse studied at East Durham College’s Houghall agricultural campus and for the past three years has worked at a farm at Houghton.
He expected his investment in the sheep to lead to a profitable business opportunity.
They first escaped from their enclosure just before 5am on Friday, when a wooden fencing panel was damaged.
Police were alerted by a member of the public and officers were able to quickly round the animals up and return them.
The second incident happened at 11.42pm on Saturday, with police confirming wire fencing was broken.
They are treating the incident as criminal damage and theft.
Mr Whitehouse found his sheep by lunchtime on Monday - with him having to shepherd them home from other parts of Hebburn with the help of friends.
A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: “We are investigating after a fence was damaged and sheep escaped from a field in Hebburn.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 quoting reference 1406 140718.”