Cattle Rustling on the Rise

Rising beef prices make cattle rustling incredibly lucrative, with animals fetching up to $1,000 per head at sale barns.
Thu February 23, 2012 5:30 pm
Flickr | Jeroen Bennink

A recent rash of cattle rustling incidents near Dallas proves the practice cannot be relegated to the history books just yet, especially as rising beef prices make bovine theft more lucrative.

“These guys are out on horseback stealing cattle just like they did 120 years ago,” H.D. Brittain, a special ranger with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in Fort Worth, told NBC DFW’s Kevin Cokely. “You get full market value for a cow whether she’s stolen or whatever.”

Last week, someone rustled seventeen head of cattle from a ranch near Mansfield. This theft was just the “latest in a recent rash of cattle thefts from ranches in Johnson and Ellis counties,” Cokely reported. Three rustlings have occurred around the state this year, according to Eric Gonzales of KENS 5 news in San Antonio.

Gonzales interviewed Roy Bearing, a rancher that works with cattle at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, who said that the drought has made cattle more eager for food. “You can rattle a feed bucket and those cattle come. They’ll almost load up for you a lot of times. So, it makes it pretty easy,” Bearing said.

Rustlers tend to set up surveillance on properties they want to hit, getting a sense of a rancher’s daily rhythm before they arrive with trailers and scoop up their stolen bovine loot, Cokely reported.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association maintains a special tip line, Operation Cow Thief , to collect anonymous tips on rustlers for a $1,000 reward.


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