Friday, December 30, 2011

Cattle rustlers and ag theft

We have commented before on rural theft in an earlier post on rural California.  We had come across a video link on rural theft, and earlier a started a post on Texas cattle rustlers.  So I thought we could collect a few more anecdotal accounts, and just make a mushy mess of it.

You see there are still cattle rustlers in Texas. And there are still people chasing them
A typical heist has the rustler pull up to the pen after work hours. He opens the gates and chains them to the open end of his transport trailer. He then drives rustles the eight calves into the trailer. The eight calves weigh about 2 tons, but have the advantage over a grand piano or a wall safe in that they transport themselves. They are worth about $4,800. The time

The thief pulled his trailer up to the pen late at night, after the last worker had gone home. Opened the two iron gates and chained them to the mouth of his trailer. Whooped the calves through the makeshift chute and into his trailer, and drove off with 4,000 pounds of cow worth about $4,800. If there are no hitches or hang-ups, less than 5 –minutes are need.
The 15,000 member Texas and Southwestern Cattle Ranchers Association has 29 special rangers. They carry guns and are allowed to make arrests. It appears that they stay busy.

Dan Barry, New York Times, 6 June 2011 via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The rangers have the respect of cattle rustlers; they know this because a rustler said so. A few years ago, they helped to pen Jerome Heath Novak, a clever, clean-cut cattle rustler from a proud ranching family in Brazoria County who was so audacious in his nighttime thefts that he even stole livestock from Nolan Ryan, the baseball legend and Texas icon. He was caught only after taking to auction a stolen calf with a distinctive barbed-wire scar, which someone noticed.

Before being sent to prison, a remorseful Mr. Novak, then 27, sat down with rangers to help them understand the mind of the cattle rustler. He confessed to not liking sale barns with motion lights or people living on site, and said he avoided ranches and sale barns that had the cattle raisers association's blue membership sign on display.

"I tried to keep away from that because it's a band of members that will hold together and push the issue," said Mr. Novak, who goes by Heath. "Someone else is there, behind them, backing them up."

And we have the video link.
CBS 47 Special Report: Ag Theft, 7 November 2011 Fresno, CA (hat tip: GG- who is not good at hat tipping himself...but oh well.)


Abigail Curtis, Bangor Daily News, 21 October 2011

TROY, Maine — The farmers are fed up with having their farm stands pilfered for cash, and they’re definitely not taking it anymore.

Joyce Benson of Troy, who grows vegetables on the Detroit Road, estimates that over the last two seasons thieves have stolen well over $1,000 from the lock box at her roadside stand, and she’s not the only one in her agricultural community to have been robbed.

“Honor system farm stands are easy prey, “ she said. “All of us have lost money. People have shut down their stands because they can’t afford to keep losing.”

We had had an earlier story about cattle thieves in Texas.  Well know Florida is seeing the same thing.

Modern-day cattle rustlers strike, make off with 'pets'.
Peter Franceschina, Sun Sentinel, 20 November 2011

Cattle rustling in South Florida is rare. Largely built-out Broward does not have any recent cases, but the two Palm Beach County thefts are being called a sign of the hardscrabble economic times. And there has been a rash of thefts costing ranchers millions of dollars in southern and Midwestern states, with beef prices at relative highs in the past year.

"I would certainly say it's trending upward," said Jim Handley, executive vice president of the Florida Cattlemen's Association. "I am hearing of it occurring a little more in recent years, than I have in the past 15."

In the Palm Beach County cases, the bad guys weren't on horseback, with lassos. They were hauling an enclosed aluminum trailer — the kind used by lawn services — behind an older, black Ford F150 pickup with an extended cab and peeling hood paint; a Navy Seal plate adorned the front.

The two men in their early 20s — it turns out there was a witness who saw part of the theft play out — managed to load six cows into the trailer on the morning of Oct. 2. Then they simply vanished.

Georgia is also seeing problems.   And we will end with this Georgia piece, but I think the point is not that there has never been rural theft, but that we are seeing at least a transitory change across a broad area.

Robbie Schwartz, The Walton Tribune, 21 December 2011

Since falling victims to the theft, the Raines have been canvassing the area, putting up flyers in businesses along highways 138 and 81 and into the Jersey community. They have benefited from a local business looking at footage from a security camera, though it did not yield any new information. While the Raines

“We have certainly noticed an increase,” Walton County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Bruce Wright said. “It is a sign of the times and a battle every day for us. People are hurting financially right now and stealing to put food on the table. And oftentimes, in the more rural areas, there is less chance of people seeing them. As a consequence, we cannot do our job without the public’s help. It is so helpful to us when people call 911 and let us know of suspicious persons in their neighborhood.”

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