Cattle theft on the rise in California

October 28, 2013

cowCattle have become a popular commodity among thieves in California. [Sacramento Bee]

In 2012, cattle owners reported 1,317 stolen or missing cows. The total of stolen or missing cows increased by 22 percent since the beginning of the recession.

“It’s a terrible crime when you steal someone’s livelihood,” said Tehama County rancher Candace Owen, who lost 25 calves to theft in 2010.

Cows often sell for at least $1,000. Cattle prices hit record highs in 2011 and 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Last year, the California Bureau of Livestock Identification returned 1,604 cattle to ranchers. The recovered value was $1.4 million.

“The thing with stealing livestock, especially cattle, is you can get 100 percent of its value, especially with unbranded animals,” said Greg Lawley, chief of the Livestock Identification bureau. “You can load up a gooseneck trailer full of cattle and be in Colorado 24 hours later.”

Cattle theft is often an inside job, said John Suther, the bureau’s senior investigator.

“They’re neighbors. They’re employees — hired men,” Suther said. “It’s a specialized business so people with knowledge of the cattle industry are the ones stealing these animals.”

Suther, who lives Shasta County, is the only cattle theft investigator in the entire state.

Earlier this month, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 924, which sets potential fines for stealing cattle. The law makes cattle theft punishable as a felony or misdemeanor with fines up to $5,000.




  1. Pelican1 says:

    Could it be that the drought has something to do with this? Are cattle insurable against loss? The cattle farmers must be paying a fortune for supplemental feed.

    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
    • tomsquawk says:

      normally speaking you move the cattle to temperatures where they won’t lose weight, not too hot, not too cold. then, right before market; hot feed. nothing to do with drought.

      (-1) 5 Total Votes - 2 up - 3 down
  2. tomsquawk says:

    vegans maybe setting them free?

    (-1) 11 Total Votes - 5 up - 6 down
    • tomsquawk says:

      hey thumbs down….have a sense of humour

      (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
  3. pasowino says:

    Rustling cattle used to mean you ended up in a tall tree with a short rope around your neck or the rancher shot you dead on the spot. Now, it just a $5,000 fine and misdemeanor or felony. Ahh, not a big deterrent. I guess this little risk is worth the large reward. Gotta go, I have to hit the road to Colorado.

    (12) 14 Total Votes - 13 up - 1 down
    • r0y says:

      Aren’t they GPS’d or tracked now? The technology exists, even non-invasive. Have a tracker attached and if it doesn’t move for a certain time (removed/destroyed) or moves too much (outside the ranch boundaries), then the rancher would know something may be up.

      It’d be an additional cost, sure, but a great deterrent and potential prevention method.

      (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
  4. whoowhoo says:

    Where’s the beef?

    (-3) 9 Total Votes - 3 up - 6 down
    • LameCommenter says:

      In Colorado.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
    • r0y says:

      The top 5 dairy producing states are:
      1. Wisconsin (cheeseheads)
      2. California
      3. New York (really!)
      4. Pennsylvania
      5. Minnesota

      The top 5 beef cattle producing states are:
      1. Texas
      2. Kansas
      3. Nebraska
      4. California
      5. Oklahoma

      …so the Beef is in Texas… well, any “Great Plains” state plus Cowlifornia.

      (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  5. slowtime says:

    Used to be a hanging offense, didn’t it?

    (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down

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