Cattle theft on the rise in the South Plains

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To some, stealing cattle may seem like a crime of the past, but it can still be a prominent problem for ranchers in the area. 

The Special Rangers with Texas Southwestern Cattle Ranchers said there has been a significant increase in cattle theft in our area. 

“It is probably more of an issue right now than any other time in the history of the state of Texas,” said Dean Bohannon, a special ranger.

Most cattle are branded, but thieves will try to re-brand the animal to make it unrecognizable before selling them at auctions, which doesn’t always work.

“Those brands are like a serial number to us,” Bohannon said. “They are like a VIN number off of an automobile, or a serial number off of a gun, it helps me identify those cattle.”

Thieves know this, and that’s why they are targeting local ranchers who don’t pen their animals, and then sell them at an auction hours away.

“It makes it easy for the thieves,” Bohannon said. “They drive out early in the morniing and load all the cattle in the back and take off, they are looking for situations to take advantage of.”

Rangers like Bohannon work to catch these stolen cattle at the auctions looking for brands, clipped ears, any sort of identication. However, they say the best way to stop this is for ranchers to be more hands on with their cattle.

“Go by the gates and make sure they are locked,” Bohannon said. “As soon as you see the lock has been tampered with you can call us and we will sort of have a head start on this issue.”

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