Sheep rustlers who jammed 11 hog-tied beasts into their small four door hatchback have been arrested after being stopped by Hawke's Bay police early this morning.
Police patrolling the rural areas surrounding Hastings stopped the vehicle about 1am.
As well as the sheep - the car contained four men.
They've been arrested and charged with theft and the ill treatment of the sheep.
They'll appear in the Hastings District Court later in the week.
Police say it's only luck none of the sheep had died - the attending officers were appalled to find the animals being transported in the way they were.
The sheep have been returned to their owners.
Police say anyone who sees suspicious or odd behaviour in rural areas should contact them.
Eleven hog-tied sheep and four sweaty blokes in a "small four door hatchback"; we pity the poor police officers who stumbled across that find!