Experienced cattle thieves continue to trouble southwest Missouri cattle farms with another 18 animals stolen last week. A group of residents are planning a substantial reward to put an end to the problem.

The Associated Press reports 17 calves and a cow with an “LM” brand on its left hip were stolen from Larry Mallory’s farm located 25 miles east of Joplin, Mo. last week.  Even Mallory admits the thieves are skilled, but he and other cattle producers continue to lose money as more animals are stolen from the area.

Jackie Moore, co-owner of the Joplin Stockyards told KY3 News 1,000 cattle within a hundred-mile radius of the office have been stolen in the past two years. Producers, along with associations and businesses in the area, hope a large reward will persuade someone to come forward with information about the thieves.

"We've been working with some different associations and different people and some local business and talking to them about how we can get this reward put together so that it benefits everyone involved within our area," Moore told KY3 News. The reward fund established to catch and convict those responsible for the stolen cattle could add up to $100,000.

Cattle producers in the area have been informed on techniques to prevent cattle thefts including different branding methods. Area livestock specialists and law enforcement have told farmers to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, keep gates locked and complete cattle-related chores at inconsistent times.