Hawke's Bay police have found a hatchback crammed with four men and 11 stolen sheep.
A patrol came across the hatchback in a rural area near Hastings at 1am today, a police spokesman said.
The sheep had been hog-tied, and were lucky to still be alive.
"The constables were appalled to find the sheep in this condition."
The four men have been charged with theft and ill treatment of the animals. They will appear in the Hastings District Court. The sheep have been returned to their owners.
In May 2010 Hastings police caught four men with sheep forced into the boot and back seat of a Mazda 626. Two of the sheep had suffocated.
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