By Ezra Romero
Cattle rustling or crop raiding might seem like a relic of the Wild West, but in the San Joaquin Valley surrounding foothills, cattle theft is on the rise. So much so that it's inspired a new bill by a local legislator that passed the Senate earlier this week. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero reports on the Livestock Theft Prevention Act.
A bill that would beef up fines for stealing livestock passed through the Senate Tuesday with unanimous, bi-partisan support. The bill would establish a $5,000 fine for anyone convicted of livestock theft.
“It’s has been a growing concern because of with the increases in value that we’ve seen in recent times, people are stealing even more,” says Republican Assembly Member Frank Bigelow who authored AB 924.
The bill merges two sections of the California Penal Code into one – living and dead livestock – plus the fine. If the bill becomes law, the proceeds would go to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Bureau of Livestock Identification, with the hope of closing current livestock theft cases and preventing future theft.
“This will help all livestock, whether you’re a bunny, whether you’re a goat producer, whether you’ve got a mule, a horse, sheep, lamb, hogs, it will help all of those producers through the same mechanism,” say Bigelow.
The bill is eligible to be voted on concurrence back in the Assembly as soon as Friday and may be on the governor’s desk by the middle of next week.