10/31/07 — Deputies hunt for sheep rustlers

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Deputies hunt for sheep rustlers

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on October 31, 2007 2:02 PM

FREMONT -- State-owned sheep are going missing at Charles B. Aycock's birthplace, possibly headed for dinner plates in the area, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office says.

"I think, my personal opinion, I believe they are eating these animals," Det. Sgt. Carl Lancaster said.

Lancaster was assigned to the case as the historic site reported its third livestock larceny in just a year, the detective sergeant said.

Sheriff's Office records show one animal missing in late December, another missing in mid-January, and yet another stolen on Oct. 28 in the early morning hours.

Altogether, sheep thefts at the Governor Aycock Road facility have totaled about $300 in value, and fences and gates have been damaged in the incidents, birthplace Manger Leigh Strickland said.

"Because we are an 1870s farmstead, and we're a working farm, we know the Aycocks had sheep and they had chickens, so we have those," Mrs. Strickland said.

Lancaster said the sheep and chickens are state property because they are located on a state facility.

Mrs. Strickland said the sheep are used for learning purposes when children visit the birthplace.

"With the sheep, we demonstrate sheep shearing the way it would have been done, with hand shears ... usually with school groups," Mrs. Strickland said.

Eggs from the chickens are sometimes used in open-hearth cooking demonstrations, although the Aycock's chickens haven't been victims of theft.

In the last theft, the Sheriff's Office has one lead -- a man was caught on video just after 4 a.m. on Oct. 28.

The video shows a white male with dark hair, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and about 200 pounds, Lancaster said.

"We have one lead, the photograph," Lancaster said. "We're just hoping for some input on that from the public."

Anyone with information about the stolen livestock is asked to call Wayne County Crime Stoppers at 735-2255 or Lancaster at 731-1489.