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Cattle Theft Increasing in Texas and Oklahoma

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HAY MAKER

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Growing TX, OK cattle rustling



Cattle Theft Increasing in Texas and Oklahoma

By Grant Gibson

Alva Review/Courier

11/06/05



Back in June, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association noted in
a press release that cattle theft is once again a serious problem.



The information from the TSCRA pointed out that when a newspaper like the
Houston Chronicle ran a front page story on cattle rustlers, the problem was
on the rise.



The TSCRA is a 128-year-old organization which investigates the theft of
livestock and equipment in Texas and Oklahoma.



Currently, the TSCRA has 29 investigators commissioned by the Texas
Department of Public Safety and/or the Oklahoma State Bureau of
Investigation to assist in investigating livestock theft and apprehending
thieves.



"We're actually commissioned by both of those agencies as special rangers,"
Larry Gray, the TSCRA director for law enforcement and market inspection
services, said.



Back in 2002, Gray referred to Woods, Harper and Alfalfa Counties in
Oklahoma as a cattle theft "hot spot," where human population is sparse and
cattle population is large.



Gray's 2002 remarks were from a press release issued by former state
representative Elmer Maddux on a legislative measure to combat livestock
thefts in rural Oklahoma.



"There's been a significant increase over the past two years," Gray said in
a telephone interview Thursday.



Gray said that it was not just northern Texas where they were seeing an
increase, but all over.



He attributes the increase in thefts to the increase in cattle prices.



Usually, their recovery in cases of stolen livestock and ranch equipment
average about $4-5 million per year. Last year alone, the TSCRA recovered
about $4.03 million in livestock and equipment, including about 2,500
cattle.



"I wouldn't be surprised if this year it's $8 million or $9 million," Gray
said, noting the TSCRA's involvement this year in several large cases,
including the investigation into Hopeton cattleman Monte Sharp.



Sharp's civil and criminal cases have yet to go to trial.



Gray also said that Woods, Alfalfa and Harper are still a "hot spot" for
cattle theft.



He also said that TSCRA investigator Ben Eggleston recently helped in the
investigation and arrest of a young man regarding livestock and equipment
theft in the Alfalfa and Woods County area.



"It should clear up a few cases around the area," Gray said.



Woods County Sheriff Rudy Briggs and Undersheriff Shane Vore stated that
there have only been a couple cases this year of cattle theft in Woods
County, including the one mentioned by Gray.



Undersheriff Vore expects charges to be filed by the end of the week.



Alfalfa County Undersheriff Dennis Frisk stated that they expected to have
charges filed sometime the first of next week regarding the latest cattle
and equipment thefts in their county.



THEFT PREVENTION TIPS



The TSCRA also lists some theft-prevention suggestions for those who raise
cattle:



* Brand cattle. It is also recommended to have the brand recorded with the
appropriate authority.



* Count cattle regularly.



* Don't establish a routine when feeding; vary the time when you feed.



* Don't feed in pens.



* Don't build pens close to a roadway.



* Lock gates.



* Be cautious of who you give keys and combinations to.



* Participate in neighborhood crime watch programs.



In Texas, brands are required by law to be registered through the county
clerk. Records of Texas brands are kept by both the county where the brand
is filed and by the TSCRA.



Brands are required to be re-registered every 10 years.



In Kansas, brands are also required by law and are registered for a
five-year period. The Kansas Animal Health Department maintains the Kansas
brand registry.



In Oklahoma, brand registration is not required by law, but the Oklahoma
Cattlemen's Association records brands.



For many years, the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association has created a brand
book containing registered Oklahoma brands.



The OCA furnishes the books to county sheriffs, county extension agents and
agricultural education instructors.



Additionally, information from the OCA also states that "[brands on record
take precedence over unrecorded brands of like and kind where questions of
ownership arise, placing the burden of proof on unregistered brand users in
the event of controversy."



More information about Oklahoma cattle brand registration can be found at
www.okcattlemen.org





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