NETHERLANDS-ANIMALS-CRIME-OFFBEAT-FILES

(FILES) A file photo taken on October 17, 2010 shows a collie herding sheep on the heath of the Dwingelderveld near Ruinen, in the north of The Netherlands. Dutch police are hot on the trail of a sheep-rustling ring responsible for the unprecedented theft of hundreds of ovines, with suspicions falling on a mutton Mafia with shepherding experience. Nico Verduin of the Dutch national agricultural organisation (LTO) said that sheep thefts have risen to alarming levels in the eastern, southern and central Netherlands‘ farming areas, with over 500 animals going missing since April 2012. In a glimmer of hope, Dutch police on September 29 recovered 309 missing sheep from fields and a barn northwest of Nijmegen. AFP PHOTO /ANP / ILVY NJIOKIKTJIEN – netherlands out –