High cattle prices make even a handful of cattle worth tens of thousands of dollars. The potential payoff has increased the number of cattle thefts in Oklahoma to a record high in 2013, and the year isn’t over yet.

The Tulsa World reports a 16-percent increase in cattle thefts this year compared to first 10 months of 2012. A record 835 cases of cattle rustling have been reported through October of 2013.

2013 brings record number of cattle thefts in OklahomaThe record number of cases comes at a time when herd sizes are at a 61-year low and beef prices remain near record highs.

Thefts range from a few animals to nearly triple-digits. One case from September involves 19 stolen head of cattle valued at more than $100,000 due to their genetic makeup. Another rustler was responsible for the theft of 99 cows.

The cases are investigated by agents with the state agriculture department. The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association assists with cases in Oklahoma and has separate case totals.

Cattle that have been branded have a higher rate of recovery and many of the animals are found when rustlers attempt to sell the cattle at an auction.

Both units yield results, there have been 274 felony charges filed through October 2013.