A Rotorua farmer says it is just a matter of time before an innocent person is shot if they stumble across armed sheep rustlers that have been plaguing the region.
Paddy Lowe says his farm, which he leases just out of Rotorua, has been targeted six times since April.
He says he has lost about 1500 hoggets.
In the latest incident, just last week, about 50 animals were shot and dragged away.
Mr Lowe says farmers have begun patrolling their properties themselves because of a poor police response.
He says farmers are prepared to defend themselves and their stock if they encounter the rustlers.