A sagging economy and high beef prices have prompted a rise in livestock thefts, reports USA Today. A single beef cow can be worth up to $2,500. The thefts have increased from the Beef Belt in Texas and Oklahoma to other beef producing states in the Midwest and South. These modern rustlers won’t fit the typical Hollywood image of mounted desperados wearing 10-gallon hats with bandannas covering their faces.
“Most of them use stock trailers pulled by pickups, or even 18-wheelers, to haul the animals away,” said Billy Powell, executive vice president of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association. No national group collects stock theft data. Budget cuts are complicating law enforcement efforts in rustling cases. For example, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries did away with its investigative division June 1 due to state budget cuts. The group’s 10 investigators looked into crimes ranging from equipment theft to rustling.