And what’s that rustling noise?
Cattle ranching is a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States and cattle theft is a small but growing problem as a recession bites and thieves realize that stealing cows is a relatively easy way to raise a quick buck.
Stolen cattle are often loaded onto trailers and taken straight from their farm or ranch to auction at a stockyard, according to detectives involved in tracking thefts.
Identifying those cattle not easy since many are not branded and detectives and owners need to act fast to retrieve the animals before sale — a task made doubly difficult if they have been transported across state lines.
Texas, the nation’s biggest cattle state, reported thefts virtually tripled between 2007 and 2008 to 6,404 head of cattle, according to Carmen Fenton, spokeswoman for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.