“Cattle theft is a unique crime,” says Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Ranger Bart Perrier. “Anybody can rob a house or commit murder, but not just anybody can steal cattle. I have yet to meet a cattle thief that wasn’t a cowboy.” State cattle associations often offer assistance to members who have fallen victim to cattle theft. For example the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association offers up to a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest or conviction of one of our member’s cattle or other agricultural related items. The individual must be in good standing at the time of the crime. One of more of the OCA Theft Reward Signs must be posted on the property and clearly visible at the time of the crime.
The crime has been around since man first took ownership of livestock and is seeing a rapid increase. Sky rocketing cattle prices due to a low national beef herd inventory has been a leading motivation behind thieves.
According to American Red Angus Magazine, as of October 2013, Oklahoma had a record of 835 cases of cattle rustling reported – a 16 percent increase in cattle thefts this year compared to the first 10 months of 2012.
If thieves play their cards right, they can walk away with thousands of dollars in property. And all in a day’s work.
While it may be unsettling, Perrier claims the majority of suspects know their victims; whether it be a neighbor, current or ex-employee.
“A lot of times we’ll work embezzlements on ranches where the suspect works for the ranch. They’ll take a few head here and there thinking they won’t get caught,” he says.
Just recently, a Kansas cattle rustler was busted.
According to The Hutchinson News, police arrested a suspect in Hays, Kan., on an Oklahoma warrant for the alleged theft of 23 head of cattle.
The crime has been linked to a Dec. 3 incident in Stafford County, Kan., where 23 head of cattle were stolen in three groups, along with a 24-foot white Titan gooseneck trailer.
The arrest happened after a stolen trailer and some of the cattle were recovered by Oklahoma authorities.
Since then a cache of items believed to be stolen by the suspect have been found in Stafford County. This includes a backhoe, a goose neck trailer, car trailers and an RV camper amongst other things.
This size of the groups stolen fit Perrier’s statements that the typical size of cattle theft is six to eight head.
“I believe that’s a standard number because most people aren’t really equipped, but have access to a 16-foot trailer,” he says.