By Dave Eckert
BARRY COUNTY, MO (KCTV) - The detective in charge of the case says he's never seen anything like it. Two Black Angus heifers were stolen from a ranch in Barry County, MO and replaced by two scrawny, sickly cows. That's right, the thieves actually went to the trouble of “exchanging” the cattle.
“I've never worked a cattle theft case like this before. Normally, cattle rustling is a crime of opportunity. For the thieves to go to the effort of replacing the cattle makes it really unusual,” Detective Doug Henry with the Barry County Sheriff's Office said.
The heifers are about a year old. They weigh about 600 to 700 pounds each. And, according to Henry, they're worth upwards of $2,000 apiece. The cows left in their place, both suffering from pink eye and carrying a lot less weight, might only fetch $500 or so, according to Henry. The detective says he believes whomever concocted this crime knew the victim well and might even be related.
“The gentleman who owns the cattle has a very large operation. We believe the thieves thought he might not notice the switch. Otherwise, why would they bother?” Henry asked rhetorically.
Turns out, the rancher did notice, and when he did, he called the sheriff's office to report the crime. The crime was reported on Feb. 3. The theft occurred near 2747 Farm Rd. 2200, Pierce City, MO in Barry County, which is located in the far southwest portion of the state.
The heifers each have the brand “23” on their rib cage. Authorities are asking area residents to watch for the stolen heifers at local sale barns.
“This is really unusual, which is why I put it out. We're trying to see if anyone in the region has experienced anything like this,” Henry said. “In the end, though, it sure looks like this was perpetrated by someone close to the victim, someone who knows his operation.”
Henry said he's not overly optimistic about solving this case because the heifers' owner has told him that if Henry's theory proves correct and it turns out that the switch was the brainchild of family or friends, he doesn't' want the matter pursued.
Still, Henry said he's following leads and scratching his head.
“It's strange, that's for sure. That's why I put it out there. I didn't want to leave it like that,” Henry told KCTV5 News.
The strange case of the Barry County switched cows. We'll keep you posted.