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Cattle rustling cases increase with down economy
It's a crime we don't often hear about. But it can cost a cattle producer tens of thousands of dollars. It's commonly known as cattle rustling.
You might think of it as a thing of the past but it happens quite frequently and a rural Nebraska man recently pleaded guilty to the crime.
Just last month prosecutors found Duane Bolton guilty to misbranding and trying to sell someone else's livestock. It had been happening up in Valentine for about 3 years.
Thursday, News 5 talked with criminal investigator David Horton from Alma, Nebraska and he says it's something to be concerned about.
Within a matter of minutes - gone. In the dead of night or broad daylight it's an easy steal for thieves.
"The increase in theft is because of the economy and the price of cattle has a direct bearing on it," said Criminal Investigator Dave Horton.
Criminal investigators spend a lot of time recovering strays and working on theft cases. They receive a missing report list every week and the numbers increase from October through December.
"I just had a case here called in last week, there was some missing cattle and it's kind of like that particular case in Valentine where cattle were taken in on shares," said Horton.
It's something to be concerned about Horton says but cattle rustling isn't anything new. It's gone on for a long time and means a lot money floating around in unknown hands.
"You take the price of cattle and somebody hauls away some cows it's pretty easy to have ten thousand dollars disappear real quick and that's a pretty big economic loss for the producer," Horton said.
Finding the culprit is not so easy.
"Inside the branding inspection area anytime there's a change of ownership or cattle leave the area or they're slaughtered; it requires an inspection by a Nebraska Brand Inspector," said Horton.
And if you don't have proof of ownership the crime team gets involved.
"Whether the cattle are actually sold somewhere, go off somewhere or are missing that has to be determined, and that's what we use our investigation for is to determine whether they've actually been stolen or just missing," said Horton.
As for the case over in Valentine, Bolton will be sentenced Feb. 10th, and prosecutors will recommend a sentence of five years' probation.
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