Investigating livestock and ranch equipment theft is typically up to the Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, which has 27 licensed investigators in Texas and three in Oklahoma. So I lassoed some statistics from the TSCRA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to see what I could find. Of note:
- In 2014, they investigated about 800 complaints of missing or stolen livestock – including about 4,000 cattle – and filed criminal charges in 36 cases. Cattle rustling is a state felony, punishable by up to 10 years behind bars.
- This year, TSCRA has investigated 463 case reports and recovered $1.16 million in missing or stolen property, spokesman Laramie Adams said.
- No bull – the price of cattle has clearly risen over the years. But I didn’t find a similar increase in the number of criminal charges filed, which has remained fairly steady. Adams wasn’t sure of the value of property TSCRA investigators recovered in previous years.
“In a lot of them, the cattle are located. They’ll report it stolen, and we may have found it, or it may have strayed off and it’s in a neighbor’s pasture, or the sheriff’s office may have impounded them,” said Larry Gray, TSCRA’s director of law enforcement.
Ranching is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and cattle represent half of Texas’ agriculture earnings. Got cows? Keep a watchful eye on your herd, and make sure they’re branded.
Note: I used the USDA’s statistics for medium and large feeder steer auctioned in San Angelo, and calculated the cattle price with the assumption that each calf weighed 525 pounds.