State Investigating Outbreak of Cattle Rustling

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- Believe it or not, there's a state investigation into an outbreak of cattle thefts.  It's become serious enough to put some cattle farmers in jeopardy.

Johnny Harris is in the cattle business and these days he says he's coming up short. "They [cattle rustlers] are organized and they know what they're doing, and they're coming in the day time," says Harris.

Harris began to notice the thefts last month.  "There were 40 something head out on the highway and all the gates were open and when I got them all caught, I came back up here and there were cattle in the catch pen."

Harris says the only way that could have happened is if someone opened the gate. Less than a month later, there was another incident.  A call from the Sheriff's Office said the gate was off the hinge. Harris went back to his farm where he found cattle once again moved, but this time, when he rounded them up, he realized almost a dozen were missing.

"They passed up all these young steers and heifers and which would have been the easiest to catch but they got heavy breed mama cows, eleven of them," says Harris.

Harris doesn't believe he's the only victim of this crime.  He says there has been a rash of cattle thefts along U.S. Highway 80.  The State Agriculture Department is investigating the reports.  In the meantime, Harris is working on his own investigation to find out who is stealing his cattle before someone puts him out of business.

Harris has about 300 cattle.  While you may think stealing eleven of them isn't a big deal, just remember each one is worth over $1,000.