By Jessica Piel
There is no lynching of cattle rustlers in this day and age, but a harsh punishment for such thieves is on its way to being passed into state law.
California’s Fifth District Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, who represents Calaveras County, presented a bill to the state senate Tuesday regarding livestock theft. It passed with unanimous, bipartisan support.
Assembly Bill 924 is designed to enforce harsher punishments for convicted livestock thieves by establishing a fine of up to $5,000. These funds will go to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Bureau of Livestock Identification to help the investigating efforts in livestock theft and to hopefully curb future theft, according to a release from Bigelow. The bill will also allow county officials to accurately track statistics on how many people have been convicted of pilfering livestock.
While cattle rustling might be seen as a Wild West-era crime, it is actually on the rise. With the price of beef, milk and livestock increasing, thieves see the potential to make a profit. In part, Bigelow is pursuing this legislation because the laws on the books do little more than slap cattle rustlers on the wrist. In the 1850s, brutal vigilante law saw to it that cattle rustlers were lynched. Modern laws have been passed in states across the country to find a punishment fit for the crime as law enforcement officials try to keep up with the increasing problem.
“Today, we took another step forward in ensuring that criminals are properly punished when they are convicted of livestock theft,” Bigelow said of his bill. More....