Police in Hastings are investigating a series of stock thefts.
Senior Sergeant Greg Brown says it is a seasonal problem, involving as many as 20 sheep for Christmas barbecues.
He adds stock rustling is hard to combat, because it happens in remote areas. Tracking and identifying stolen stock is difficult after the animals have been butchered and the meat processed.
Senior Sergeant Brown says when meat is being offered for sale cheap, there is a good chance it has been stolen.