Farmers in isolated parts of coastal Waikato are being warned not to take the law into their own hands after a spate of sheep rustling near Raglan.
Armed police chased a vehicle after shots were heard on a farm near Te Akau on Monday night.
The four-wheel-drive was discovered abandoned at a camp ground near Ngaruawahia with two sheep carcasses inside and a firearm nearby.
Federated Farmers says the economic situation and current high price for sheep meat could be encouraging more rustling, particularly on isolated farms.
But its Waikato president, James Houghton, says while it may be tempting for farmers to take the law into their own hands, police should be left to handle the situation.
Te Akau farmer John Glen says farmers are probably now more hesitant to confront strangers, but they have to act because police are often a long way away.
Police say Monday's incident highlights the value of rural neighbourhood support groups and the community working together.