By Robert Stanton
Welcome to Texas, where everything is bigger - including cattle rustling.
With the rising price of beef, modern-day cattle rustlers are having a field day, often staying a step ahead of the special rangers on their tracks.
"It's always been a problem but really over the last five years I've seen it pick up," said Jason Cleere, a service beef cattle specialist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in College Station. "Calf prices and the value of cattle has gone up, and people are struggling a little more."
Last year, more than 10,400 head of cattle and horses were reported missing or stolen to the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association - a large jump from the 7,600 reported missing in 2011, according to the Fort Worth-based organization.
TSCRA special rangers recovered more than $4.4 million in stolen livestock and equipment last year.
"Livestock and ranch equipment theft is a big problem in Texas and Oklahoma," said Larry Gray, the association's executive director of law enforcement. "The good news is that a lot of these thieves get caught because of the hard work and dedication of the special rangers."
Last month, 18-year-old Boysie Deleon Cole of Washington County was arrested in Brenham and charged with cattle theft for allegedly stealing a small calf from a rancher, according to TSCRA. Authorities received an anonymous tip that Cole had sold a calf at the Caldwell Livestock Commission Co., and a special ranger stopped the sale until the calf could be identified. More....