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Cattle rustling on the rise

California ranchers may unfortunately know that the old-time crime of cattle rustling, in which a person steals cows, is rapidly increasing in rural areas across the country. Stealing cows is considered to be a relatively low risk crime, leading many people to do it.

According to National Public Radio, alleged thieves prefer to take cows or calves that are unmarked, as they are more difficult to identify. While some of the people who take them then sell the allegedly stolen cows at auction, others are reportedly bartered for drugs, such as methamphetamine or heroin.

Reportedly, in just the states of Texas and Oklahoma alone, almost 4,000 head of cattle have been reported stolen just in 2015. The increase in thefts has significantly increased for calves, which are easier to transport than are cows. In one case in Follett, Texas, 1,100 cows were stolen from a single farm owned by a fast-food chain. Many of the reported thefts are from small farms, however. When a farmer has only a few head of cattle, a theft can have a major impact on their bottom line.

People who are accused of theft may potentially face prison time in the event they are convicted as charged. Those who are charged may benefit by seeking the help of a criminal defense attorney. Upon a review of the evidence in the case, the attorney may be able to identify constitutional problems and draft evidentiary motions to challenge its admissibility. In other cases, legal counsel may determine that the best strategy would be to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution.

Source: NPR, "Cattle theft: An old crime on the rise," Jacob McCleland, Aug. 25, 2015.

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