The ranch manager at Pine Ridge Plantation in western Martin County, Florida was arrested Monday after at least 175 cows were stolen and sold at area livestock auctions.
The series of livestock thefts took place from January of last year to August 2013. Justin Shurley, ranch manager at the Pine Ridge Plantation is charged with felony grand theft of $100,000 or more in connection to the missing livestock.
Shurley took a few cows at a time over the 18 month period. Detectives eventually found where he was selling the livestock and retrieved video from the stockyard. Shurley allegedly sold stolen cows on 22 separate occasions.
The case is the largest cattle rustling event in the county and could expand further. WPTV News Channel 5 reports Shurley may be responsible for additional livestock thefts in the area. A neighboring ranch reported 35 head of cattle are missing.
Cattle theft is on the rise again as animals become more valuable. Producers are encouraged to brand their animals, vary feeding schedules and keep an eye out for suspicious activity.