High cattle prices have made cattle rustling more common to start 2013, especially in southwest Missouri where nearly 40 cows have been stolen in the past three weeks.

Most cases have occurred at night in rural areas with gates or fences cut to allow trailers to enter the pasture, load cattle and get away with little-to-no detection.

The University of Missouri Extension offers some additional tips to fight cattle rustling. In addition to marking animals with ear tags, earmarks, tattooing or branding, keep an eye out for suspicious activity such as trucks transporting cattle at night or people and vehicles that look out of place.

The first step Dona Goede offers is to check cattle, pastures and fences regularly. It was reported a few weeks ago that cattle thieves were sending scouts to check activity and mark access points with masking tape to strike later. Cattle producers should be extra observant as sale days approach.

Producers should also make sure gates are always closed and locked and fences are in good repair. Gate hinges should have capped hinges so they cannot be removed easily. Also avoid a consistent schedule to make it more difficult for thieves to predict your activity.

Communicate with law enforcement and neighbors to report strange vehicles and gather information including the make and model of the vehicle and license plate info.

Technology and other equipment can make monitoring the property more efficient. Alarms for electric fences can alert you if the fence is broken or cut or a bell on the gate can alert you of intruders on your property.

Video surveillance cameras are another option and may not avoid theft, but images captured on the camera can lead to the arrest of those who entered the property. Be sure to conceal cameras where they’re not likely to be seen.

If cattle are stolen, report the event to authorities and provide as much information as possible. Accurate records can be beneficial as thieves are likely to sell the animals at a nearby auction.