Cattle rustling on the rise in Texas


by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist CHRIS SHADROCK

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 24 at 6:00 PM

FREDRICKSBURG, Texas -- It's a problem reminiscent of the Wild Wild West. Authorities say cattle rustling is on the rise in Texas.

Special Ranger Max Hartmann oversees 10 Texas counties.

"We work cattle thefts, horse thefts, livestock thefts of all kinds," said Hartmann, a special ranger for Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

Hartmann says there has been a dramatic increase in stolen livestock and ranching equipment.

"To me a lot of the news media uses the term 'cattle rustling.' That's kind of a romantic term, but the individual is still a thief," said Hartmann.

Hartmann assisted in recovering $5 million of that stolen property from last year.

"If somebody steals a cow from you, they're stealing the factory. This is how you make your living," said Hartmann.

Ranchers are encouraged to iron brand their cattle, write down serial numbers and take photographs of their equipment.

State law increased the maximum punishment for cattle rustling in 2009. It used to be a state jail felony with a punishment range up to two years. Now it's a third degree felony with a punishment range of up to 10 years.

In 2012, 10,000 head of cattle were reported stolen or missing. In 2011, 7,000 were reported stolen or missing.