Rangers Warn Ranchers After Cattle Thefts, Prices Rise

Wednesday, October 15th 2014, 5:47 pm
By: Craig Day

Special rangers with the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association are holding a series of public meetings this week to share ways to prevent cattle theft.

With the price of cattle so high, rustlers are on the rampage.

At Langford Herefords in Okmulgee County, they're getting ready for a sale Sunday afternoon.  They've been a ranching family for more than 70 years.

"A handshake and honesty is a way of life with cattle people," rancher Leon Langford said.

But about a year ago, a thief stole 19 head of the Langfords' registered purebred cattle, worth about $100,000.

It made Leon Langford sick.

"It upsets the heck out of you to know they're just driving in and getting your cattle," he said.

Special Rangers with the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association got involved, eventually leading to the recovery of some of the cattle and the arrest of a Haskell woman who sold some of the cattle in Bryan County in Southern Oklahoma.

She was sentenced to two years in prison and will have to pay restitution.

"Was able to positively identify the cattle due to brands and tattoos, which is pretty much the key to the case,” Special Ranger Bart Perrier said.

"They just done us a whale of a job,” Langford said.

Those special rangers are meeting with ranchers in Green Country this week to provide information on how to prevent their livestock and equipment from being stolen.

"With the prices record high, the theft I would say is record high,” Perrier said.

Perrier says nearly every time, drugs are to blame for cattle thefts.

"I have yet to catch a subject stealing cattle that was trying to feed their family,” he said. “These people are feeding addictions and feeding bad decisions."

In addition to branding, which made the difference in Langford's case, experts also recommend locking gates, so ranchers will notice more quickly if locks are cut, which means faster law enforcement response, which is critical.

Langford doesn't want thefts to happen to any fellow ranchers.

"It's just a bad deal to have to put up with a bunch of dang thieves,” he said.

One of the meetings will be held at the Civic Center in Wagoner on Wednesday at 6 p.m., and the next will be on Thursday in Stillwater at the Payne County Expo Center at 6 p.m.