There’s a new investigator in Wagoner County who’s cracking down on agricultural crimes.
The industry has an economic impact in the billions and crooks are cashing in.
With stolen tractors and cattle selling for market value, the Wagoner County Sheriff is bringing in an expert, and he’s a face you may recognize.
“I saw a lot of fires through my career. I saw a lot of tragedy,” said Deputy Mark Sipe. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, we show up at a person’s worst day of their life.”
Sipe is a former Fire Marshal who retired after 30 years with the Tulsa Fire Department.
Now that he’s traded in his fire helmet for his old cowboy hat, he’s hoping to bring justice to Wagoner County.
“It allows me to kind of give back to the community I grew up in, that I was raised in, because not everybody dresses like we dress, talks like we talk,” Sipe said.
The number one crime in Wagoner County is property crime.
“If I was going to be a thief, wow!” said Sheriff Chris Elliott. “Every time you see one of those black cows standing out in the pasture, it’s a thousand-dollar bill.”
Sheriff Elliott says cattle rustling is going unreported.
“They back into a pasture, they throw up some temporary paddles, grab a feed sack, and they get those cows up in the trailer,” said Elliott.
That’s why he hired Sipe as a reserve deputy who works hand-in-hand with the State Department of Agriculture.
“I have not found any other sheriff in the state of Oklahoma that has an investigator that solely is an agricultural investigator,” stated Elliott.
With more than 500 farms in the county and 44,000 head of cattle, Sipe says he’s already investigating cattle rustling cases in his first two weeks on the job.
“When you’re the person who’s putting the blood, sweat, and tears into something like that…that breaks my heart for them,” said Sipe. “Growing up in that industry, I’ve been on that side of it.”
Additionally, if someone sets hay bales or a pasture on fire, he will investigate that arson, along with the state Department of Agriculture, since it’s considered a wildland fire.