The rural crime of cattle theft resurfaces in Missouri

In late May, thieves stole thirteen cows from a Walnut Grove, Missouri farm. Rural Greene County in southwest Missouri has reported at least four cattle rustling cases with more than 100 missing cows this year. Kelly Smith is marketing and commodities director of the Missouri Farm Bureau. She says cattle rustling is a problem that has recently resurfaced: "It kind of peaked itself out probably in 2008 and 9, went away and has come back again. Where we see cattle rustling take place, typically is Southwest Missouri, where we see it happen a lot.”

Smith says Southwest Missouri sees thefts more often because the industry is heavy there, but the problem spans the whole state. Jason Clark is the Rural Crimes sergeant for the Missouri Highway Patrol. He says high cattle prices and a struggling economy are to blame: "Since the cattle prices are up, certainly that’s the whole reason for the theft; would be to sell those and upon doing so, all the money taken in would be pure profit for the thieves.”

The Missouri legislature created a livestock and farm protection task force in 2009 to address the issue, but Smith says cattle rustling is easy, and as long as economic times are tough and cattle prices are high thefts will continue.

By: Megan Johnson