Where's the beef? Farmers reporting rash of cattle thefts

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks is issuing a stern warning after a rash of cattle thefts.

Steal cattle in Alabama and Sparks says his department will track you down.

In the last two weeks there have been more than 100 head of cattle reported stolen, and for the last six months the total number of missing bovines stands at 208.

The thefts are causing a  lot of stress among farmers and on Wednesday a reward was issued in hopes of catching the thieves and bringing the thefts to an end.

"Our farmers can not afford it," said Sparks. "These are tough times for agriculture. It's tough times for farmers."

WSFA 12 News brought you the story of Johnny Harris, a cattle farmer, back in April when he noticed his cattle count was coming up short.

"They got heavy-bread momma cows," Harris said," eleven of them..."

Now the crime is rearing it's ugly head again. This time, hundreds of cattle from twelve counties across the state are missing. Farmers in Franklin, Perry, Montgomery, Lauderdale, Hale, Lowndes, Mobile, St. Clair, Dekalb, Cherokee, Randolph, and Clay counties are reporting thefts of their livestock.

"We want the farmers to understand we are doing everything we can," Sparks reassured the public.

Investigators don't think the thieves are amateurs as they known exactly when to strike.

The cattle rustlers appear to be targeting animals that are just about ready for sale or ones that have just been sold.

"This is more than just going down the road and stealing a calf, " said Billy Powell of the Alabama Cattleman's Association.

Investigators do have some leads. They recently found an abandoned trailer with about 18 steers and heifers inside but caution that this investigation is far from over.

"The message we want to send out to the people of Alabama is that if you're in the business of stealing cattle in this state we're going to build this coalition and we're going to be relentless and do everything we can to stop you," said Sparks.

The Alabama Cattleman's Association has posted a $1,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction.

Click here to visit the Alabama Agriculture's Investigation website.