Bristow Rancher Out $35K After Cattle Rustlers Strike Ahead Of Sale
BRISTOW, Oklahoma - A Bristow rancher is upset after he says thieves stole $35,000 in cattle and that the people responsible knew what they were doing.
Kelly Klaus says he was days away from participating in his first cattle sale. He just started ranching last year. But now with eight pregnant black angus heifers gone and two steers gone, the money he hoped to recoup also is gone.
Every day for the past year, Klaus has counted and fed his cattle. As he neared the first feeding of the day on Sunday, he realized something was wrong.
Typically he's greeting by 15 head at the pasture along Highway 16.
"I feed everyone else and they are the last group fed, so they are standing there waiting,” he said. “When I pulled up there was only five."
After calling for them, still no more came. That's when he saw the chain hanging loose on the gate and drag marks, from what he suspects came from a 16- to 18- foot trailer.
"When they came in, they came in right there,” he said. “You can see the tracks going right there. And they just backed up to this chute and they loaded them in that chute."
Kelly says the cattle never would go into the alley of the holding pen on their own. But he found fresh manure there. He also found freshly made divots in the ground.
"You can see these tracks running right here when they left,” he said.
Klaus gets up shortly after dawn, so he suspects he missed the thieves by minutes.
The cattle have ear tags, but they aren't branded. Klaus planned to do that when the weather cooled down. He says the crooks likely removed the cattle ear tags, so they'll be hard to track.
He also planned on moving the cattle closer to the house the night before.
“This was going to be my first group to start selling where I could actually recoup some money,” he said. “Now I’m gonna be about $35,000 in the hole."
He says the recent drought raised the value of black angus beef. So he says cattle like his are worth a lot, and he's willing to pay to get them back.
Klaus has been in touch with the Oklahoma Cattleman's Association, and the Creek County Sheriff's Office also is investigating.
If you have any information about the cattle rustlers, Klaus is offering a $2,000 reward.