By Craig Day, News On 6
CRAIG COUNTY -- Four people are charged with stealing nearly three dozen head of cattle from a ranch in Northern Craig County.
Justin McLain has been in the ranching business all of his life. The last ten years he has been in Craig County.
"We were raised up doing that and it's just kind of a passion," said McLain.
But in all of his years working with cattle and horses, he has never had to deal with thieves stealing several dozen head of cattle.
"For somebody to just come in and do that, it's pretty frustrating. It makes you pretty mad at first," said McLain.
Investigators say 32 head of cattle wandered off the pasture, through the brush and trees and onto adjacent property. After searching for them on horseback and with planes, McLain realized they were stolen.
"That's a lot of money. That's our living," said McLain.
Craig County Sheriff Jimmie Sooter says thieves loaded the cows onto a truck and sold them at a livestock auction in Joplin.
The cattle were later tracked down in Dodge City.
"They shaved around where the brand was and when they looked at it, sure enough, they belonged to the person in Craig County," said Sheriff Jimmie Sooter, Craig County.
Deputies arrested four people who are accused of stealing the cattle.
"I really believe it was an opportunity that just came along and they thought that they could get away with it," said Sheriff Sooter.
McLain says he's relieved arrests have been made and the cattle were located. He hopes it never happens again.
"In the economy today, you really, really have to do everything you can just to make it. So yeah, when it's taking away your livelihood, it does make you pretty mad," said McLain.
McLain and investigators with the sheriff's office say it's important to report cattle theft quickly and they say it was the key in this investigation.