There has been a fresh spate of livestock thefts despite several arrests made earlier this year, according to police in Hawke's Bay.
Flaxmere police said arrests were made in July, but meat continued to be sold on the black market and sheep carcasses were being dumped in public areas.
Community Constable Greg Andrew said the rustling was costing local farmers up to $10,000 a year. A ewe or lamb could fetch between $100 and $140 in the current market and some farmers were reportedly losing more than 100 animals a year.
Mr Andrew said police had strong leads.
"Without a doubt, they're experienced and cheeky the way they carry out their activities. I think I know the group of people that could be involved and it's a case of further investigating. Often it is associates of the original offenders that have already been caught."
The thieves were selling the meat through text messages, he said.
Hastings District Council contractors clean up the dumped carcasses and offal at a cost of between $100 and $300 per carcass, which is paid for by ratepayers.