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Stealing burgers on the hoof

Wynn

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Cattle Rustling Plagues Ranchers
By MALCOLM GAY

CLEVER, Mo. — Crashing through a gate in the dead of night, thieves using trucks and trailers recently robbed a farmer here of 53 Brahman crossbreed cows valued at some $50,000.

Known for a distinctive hump at the base of the neck, Brahman cattle are rare here and would be easily spotted at a local auction, leading investigators to think the rustlers already had a buyer — or a butcher — lined up.

“Those were full-grown cows,” Sheriff Joey Kyle of Christian County said. “Around 1,100 pounds apiece. That’s 53,000 pounds of beef on the hoof. Your normal stock trailer will handle a dozen to 15 cows, so do the math.”

It was the first cattle theft in the county in more than two years and the largest state officials could recall. It came amid a surge of such thefts here in southwestern Missouri. In January, rustlers hauled away 41 cows in nearby Lawrence County. Investigators in Barry County report 30 head stolen in the last six months. In Greene County, Sheriff Jim Arnott said rustlers had struck 10 times since October, stealing a total of 93 cows.

“It’s a big spike,” Sheriff Arnott said. “Usually we’ll go a year or two with no thefts, but it’s really picked up. In these economic times people are taking desperate measures, whether it’s stealing, or whether they’re trying to come up with money through insurance fraud.”

Earlier this month, rustlers in Watertown, S.D., used tractor-trailers to steal nearly 200 cows from an auction market. State officials in Wyoming report that thieves stole 225 head of cattle in 2008, up from 90 in 2006.

In Montana, where 60 cattle were recently reported missing in a series of thefts, officials described an increase in rustling since the summer, and the International Livestock Identification Association reported swelling numbers of missing-animal claims this year among its 20 member states.

Equally alarming, investigators say, is a spike in cattle-related fraud. Out-of-state buyers build a relationship with an auction market, only to disappear with livestock they used in-house credit to buy but never paid for. Investigators also say that people are now falsely claiming ownership of cattle as collateral for loans.

“It’s across the board,” Lee Romsa, state brand commissioner for the Wyoming Livestock Board, said. “We’re not just seeing more thefts, we’re seeing more large thefts.”

Still, no state seems as hard hit by cattle rustling as Missouri.

“They’ve just been plagued,” said Larry Gray, head of law enforcement for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

Mr. Gray, who said that cattle theft was often tied to drug activity, added that Missouri farmers might be more vulnerable to rustlers because many farmers there were “absentee producers” with smaller operations.

“Thieves like to prey on the smaller producers,” he said, because “it’s a lot easier for the thieves to get and load the cattle.”

Also, unlike many larger cattle-producing Western states, Missouri does not have a “brand law,” meaning that cattle producers are not required to register brands with the state.

Not having to register saves many of the state’s 65,000 ranchers from paying fees, but it also means that cattle often carry no identifying marks. Auction markets and stockyards are not required to verify ownership of unbranded cattle, and that, the authorities say, allows thieves to unload stolen livestock quickly.

“You could drive up to any sale barn, drop off your load of cattle, and if they pass the agricultural inspection and are sold, you’d get a check in the mail,” Sgt. Jason Clark, a Missouri Highway Patrol spokesman, said.

Since 2004, after a surge in cattle thefts following a spike in beef prices, many of the roughly 130 auction markets in Missouri have begun asking for identification and proof of ownership from anyone trying to sell unbranded cattle. But the program is voluntary, and the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association estimates that thieves have stolen more than $1.1 million in cattle and equipment in the past four years.

To counter the tide, sheriffs have stepped up their efforts, pulling over suspicious cattle trailers, educating farmers and ranchers about protecting their livestock, distributing fliers at feed stores and notifying auction markets when a theft occurs.

A bill in the General Assembly would stiffen penalties for livestock theft, and the Missouri Farm Bureau and the state cattlemen’s association each offer rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of cattle thieves.

But investigators say efforts to track down stolen cattle rarely bear fruit. There is no national identification database for cattle, and thieves often move quickly, shipping stolen animals to auction markets in other states that do not require brand inspection.

“If they don’t have a chip or branding or a tattoo, you’re pretty much looking for a black cow,” said Sheriff Arnott, who said he had traced stolen cattle as far as Mississippi.

Bob Gammon, who owns a farm in southwestern Missouri, has branded his cattle since he began raising them in 1946. Still, Mr. Gammon has not been able to recover the 18 head that were stolen in January. After crushing a gate, the thieves used one of Mr. Gammon’s trailers to haul away the livestock, which he valued at $15,000.

“When I got there the next morning, there was a gate laying down and a few cattle out on the road,” said Mr. Gammon, who has put heavier chains on his gates and installed an alarm and lighting system in several farm buildings. “I thought I was doing everything right, but I haven’t heard from the cattle yet.”

Sheriff Kyle, who said a subpoena had recently been issued in the Brahman theft in Christian County, said local officials were under pressure to find stolen cattle before the animals disappeared inside a slaughterhouse.

“Down here, a sheriff lives or dies by whether he keeps the cattle thefts down,” he said. “But there are no serial numbers on hamburgers.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/25/us/25rustling.html?_r=1&th&emc=th
 

VTliftVT

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Jun 6, 2008
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1,603
Hahaha thats hilarious! Someone here has to know about this! Who else would steal cows outside of meat heads? Police probably think they will get sold at a cattle auction or something when in all reality they are being trimmed and cut into steaks and hamburger right now! :D
 

njpooldude

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Feb 26, 2008
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ya think uve seen it all..... then u realize ppl actually steal cows??? wtf
 

ronnie0072

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Feb 25, 2009
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just picture 280 pound 8% BF freaks tippy toeing around in the darkness stealing cows. hahahhahahahahaha
 

SacToSD

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Feb 17, 2009
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Have any of you tried getting a cow into a trailer? It's good times. A loose pig, on the other hand, is bad news.
 

latimus

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Oct 5, 2008
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seems like a ballsy move. most farmers have rifles and wouldnt hesitate if they saw a suspisous person trying to steal cattle on there property.
 

BigBoomer18

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Nov 8, 2007
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i doubt the cattle were in his front yard, or anywhere near his house for that matter. but still a ballsy move
 

Wynn

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It hasn't ended there

"The Daily Telegraph reports that "Lady Lesley Cooper, who runs an animal sanctuary at her 70-acre farm, claims she is being "bombarded" with enquiries from people wanting her "pets" as food for the table. Lady Cooper, 49, says she will offer sanctuary to any animal, but would never knowingly allow any of them to be slaughtered. She said last night: "The cheek of these people is amazing. "They'll call round or phone and say they are interested in taking one of our rescues cows or pigs or goats or whatever, then within a minute or two they'll ask if the animal they have chosen is safe to eat. "I tell them to sling their hooks and suggest they call at the butchers on the way home. These animals are my pets and I would never allow anyone to eat them. "But the people who enquire here tell me they've been hit badly by the recession and need cheap food. "I suppose they are just being resourceful, but there is a limit." Lady Cooper, whose farm nestles in the Carmarthenshire hills near Llanelli in South West Wales, says she receives up to a dozen calls a day from people wanting to dine on her stock, which also includes geese, turkeys and chickens. She said. "One guy turned up and had the brass neck to eye up one of my beautiful ginger Tamworth pigs and say to me: 'Could I take her for the freezer? She'd be lovely between a few slices of bread.' "
 

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