By Amy Bickel
A Kansas cattle rustler was arrested last week after allegedly stealing 23 head of cattle from a Stafford County ranch.
Meanwhile, a cache of items the man allegedly stole also was discovered in a undisclosed location in Stafford County, said Sheriff Jeff Parr.
"What we recovered in our county the past couple days is property this same suspect had stolen from Oklahoma and hid it in a pasture," Parr said, noting the recovered property is not related to a recent rash of elevator thefts that have according in Reno and surrounding counties.
The man's name is not being released, but Parr said he used to live in Great Bend and now has an Oklahoma address. The case is still under investigation.
Among the recovered items are an RV camper, a couple of car trailers, a goose neck trailer, buckets off of skid loaders, miscellaneous fittings and hoses and even a backhoe.
The arrest was spurred after some of the cattle, along a stolen trailer at the same time, was recovered by Oklahoma authorities near Cushing.
"They also found another horse trailer there that was stolen from the feedlot in Stafford County over a year ago," Parr said. "They found a whole bunch of equipment."
The rustler was arrested on an Oklahoma warrant in Hays.
He waived extrication to Kansas, Parr said.
Parr said the suspect admitted to the cache during an interview. Stafford County uncovered the stolen goods Monday. The landowner, a supposed friend of the suspect, said he knew the man was putting items in the pasture but didn't know they were stolen.
There has been an uptick in cattle thefts over the past year as cattle numbers continue to decline amid a drought and demand for beef stays steady. To a rustler, a few head of cattle could put $2,000 or $3,000 dollars in their pockets.
According to a previous story in The News, it was the evening of Dec. 3 that three groups of cattle, a total of 23 head, were stolen from Stafford County. The suspect also took a 24-foot white Titan gooseneck trailer. The cattle and trailer were noticed missing on Dec. 4.
About 10 head of the cattle, stolen in early December, were returned to their owner, Parr said.