Seven Hawke's Bay people have been charged with stealing stock, slaughtering them and onselling the meat.
Police were pleased with the recent arrests, but believed they had nabbed just some of a much larger group offending in the Hastings area.
Detective Sergeant Craig Vining said police were working to uncover more offenders.
"We believe a larger group to be responsible for not only stock thefts but burglaries and thefts of vehicles, property and fuel," Vining said.
Six men and a woman had been charged with theft in the last week. They were also facing charges under the Animal Products Act in regards to selling meat that had been slaughtered in an unregulated environment.
There were no controls over the welfare of the animals and whether they had been slaughtered humanly and hygienically. Unhygienic practices put people buying the stolen meat at risk, Vining said.
The thefts increased vigilante behaviour and put a financial strain on farmers, who tried to increase their security, he said.
"This offending has impacted financially and emotionally on the victims."
Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Hastings police on 06 873 0500.
- The Dominion Post