(Sacramento Bee) – Cattle rustling is on the rise in Californiae.
Last year, 1,317 head of cattle were reported stolen or missing in California, said Greg Lawley, chief of the state’s Bureau of Livestock Identification. That’s a 22 percent increase from what was reported before the recession.
“We assume this is an outgrowth of cattle price rise,” Lawley said.
In many instances a cow can sell easily for $1,000. Cattle prices have been increasing steadily, with prices hitting record highs in 2011 and 2012, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Unlike the old days, when stolen cattle were herded on horseback, today’s rustlers use trailers and trucks. “The speed of transport means you can load up a gooseneck trailer full of cattle and be in Colorado 24 hours later,” Lawley said.
Central Valley cattle rancher Mark Beck has had four steers stolen this year from his ranches in Sacramento, San Joaquin and Calaveras counties. “The thieves loaded them by roadways where there is easy access,” he said. “Sometimes they shoot the cattle and butcher them where they find them.”
Beck sees it as a crime driven by economics. “The way the job market has been since 2008, people are getting desperate, and they’re stealing things,” Beck said.