OZARK (KFSM)-- Sixteen cows were stolen from a man in Boone County, and ten of them were brought to the I-40 Livestock Auction, where owner, Kent Reading had been given a description and recognized them.
“They had a description of them which was an ear notch on the right ear and had an IJ brand on the right hip,” Reading said.
Once Reading realized the cattle were stolen he called the Franklin County Sheriff's Department.
“I asked if anybody in the audience was selling the cattle, and a man stood up and said, ‘I am,’ and I said, ‘Well, that's kind of funny because these cattle look like they absolutely fit the description of the cattle that were stolen,’” Reading said.
Deputies took the man in for questioning for trying to sell the stolen cattle that were worth nearly $12,000.
Reading said cattle rustling is becoming a more common problem.
“This is the 3rd time that we've actually caught someone stealing cattle, but there's been a lot of cattle that have been stolen here in Franklin, Johnson and Newton County in the last six months,” Reading said.
Cattle owner, Gary Stubblefield, said he thinks more cattle are being stolen because of their high cost.
“This last year is the highest we've ever experienced, as far as I know, last year was the highest prices, and cattle are worth a lot of money,” Stubblefield said.
Stubblefield said locking gates and tagging the cattle doesn't always help keep thieves away, and it's the smaller farms that are hurt the worst.
“Somebody could back up to a corral or cut the fences and they can steal 10 or $15,0000worth of cattle, and that's a big loss because most of those people don’t insure their cattle,” Stubblefield said.
Reading said the only way to stop theft is to have harsher punishments
“Usually they get slapped on the hand and let go, but really there should be some stiff penalties for it,” Reading said. “There should be some stiff penalties and this wouldn't happen near as often.”
Cattle rustling is a felony, but no arrests have been made in this case yet.
Reading said the suspect has been to the I-40 auction and sold cattle there before.
According to Reading, the other six cows were found on the suspect's property, and all of them are being returned to the owner.