The illicit activity of cattle rustling is on an upsurge in places like Texas and Oklahoma. According to authorities, rising beef prices and drug addiction are to blame.
Approximately 4,000 head of cattle have been reported missing or stolen in Texas and Oklahoma in 2015. Calves are reportedly a primary target because they are smaller and often have no identifying brands or ear tags. At auction, a 525-pound calf can sell for up to $1,300 in Oklahoma, which is up from around $800 a few years ago. There have been some major heists, such as the 1,100 head of cattle stolen from a farm in Follett, but most thefts have been small-scale operations perpetrated by local teens.
A representative with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association commented that cattle theft is a “low risk, high reward” crime, which makes it extremely attractive to teens trying to finance their drug or alcohol addiction. Sometimes cash isn’t even involved. There have been cases where a thief has stolen a cow and simply led it to a local drug dealer’s land in exchange for drugs. Methamphetamine from Mexico is the most popular drug among rural teens, though heroin use is also on the rise.
Texas residents with theft charges may face severe penalties, including a significant amount of jail time and costly fines, if convicted. However, a defense attorney could help their situation. An attorney could review the evidence in the case for an inaccuracies that could be used in a defendant’s favor. In some cases, legal counsel may advise that a defendant negotiate for a plea deal to reduce the charges.
Source: NPR, “Cattle Theft: An Old Crime On The Rise,” Jacob McCleland, Aug. 25, 2015