The Eastern Cape's Stock Theft Unit has been busy this December with smuggled sheep, stolen goats and at least one horse recovered as officers work to put the illegal stock traders behind bars and return animals to their rightful owners. "Eastern Cape is the food basket of the whole country in agriculture, mostly livestock and wool production," said Eastern Cape acting Provincial Commissioner major general Andre Swart."Let's protect our economy. Thieves must be traced and arrested and livestock recovered daily be impounded."Since December 17 the unit's operations include the arrest of two men, aged 25 and 45, who were arrested in Avondale for allegedly illegally importing 28 sheep from Lesotho. They also faces charges under the Animals Disease Act.According to Gumtree and OLX, sheep range from between R1000 to R1500 each.Other wins for the unit include: - The Mthatha stock theft unit executed a warrant of arrest against a 29-year-old man who failed to appear in court in April 2017 for possession of 24 sheep police think were stolen; - A group was arrested in Aliwal North for the theft 18 sheep. Of those, 13 were recovered and returned to their owner;- In Ngqeleni two people aged 31 and 41 were arrested after they could not prove their horse was theirs, and could not say who they had bought it horse from. And, in Middelburg at Wolwas stock holdings, a 22 year-old was arrested for the theft of a R250,000 Boer Goat. It had been slaughtered.The unit was also cracking down on straying sheep and goats and would only hand them to their owners on production of the proper documents.