Craig Day, News On 6
RAMONA, Oklahoma -- Oklahoma is cattle country, unfortunately with the price of beef at record levels, there has been a big jump in cattle thefts.
A rancher in Washington County knows that firsthand and he wants others to be aware and on the lookout.
Like many Oklahomans, Mike Rainey loves raising cattle.
"If I could afford it, to do just this, I would," said Mike Rainey.
Just as strong as his love of the rural lifestyle, is his dislike for thieves, but thieves took some of his cattle: eight head and they left a ninth one dead.
"You work so hard for something and then just to have someone come and take it, ain't nothing worse," said Mike Rainey.
At $800 a head, you can understand why cattle rustling is so frustrating.
Bart Perrier is a Special Ranger with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
"Everyday, people say do they really have cattle rustling still, well it never went away, it's just not on the front pages like everything else," said Bart Perrier.
Perrier says with the price of beef at record highs, cattle theft is an ongoing problem in Oklahoma.
"It's occuring more and more every day, it's definitely on the rise and I don't see it going away anytime soon," Bart Perrier.
Perrier says cattle theft is often a low risk, high reward crime, mainly because there are usually a limited number of witnesses in rural areas.
"Not only is cattle theft on the rise, the implements and equipment, tractors, trailers, everything, there is a market on it," said Bart Perrier.
Rustlers can come in, grab a few head, and be gone in a matter of minutes. That's likely what happened to Mike Rainey's cattle.
"Anger. I was just so furious at it, just the fact that somebody would do it," said Mike Rainey.
The best defense is neighbors keeping an eye out for each other and reporting suspicious activity quickly.
"Like everybody says, you never think of it ever happening to you, and you don't," said Mike Rainey.
Rainey is now taking extra precautions like locking gates, and checking on his remaining cattle more frequently. He doesn't want it to happen again, or to anyone else.
Rainey's cattle were all Angus or Brangus cross heifers, with one Limousine.
The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association offers a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in any cattle theft case.
The special hotline for Operation Cow Thief is 800-242-7820.