Charolais cow & calf

Rural residents in southwest Missouri need to be alert as law enforcement agencies have released information on livestock and equipment thefts taking place around the area.

“Over the course of the last two weeks, there have been two reported thefts of large, portable corrals in Newton and Lawrence counties in southwest Missouri,” reported the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office in an update on its Facebook page. “There have also been reported thefts and attempted thefts of cattle in Barry County and Lawrence County.”

In Barry County, the sheriff’s department reported the theft of 16 head of Charolais cattle in the Exeter area. An attempted cattle theft was reported around the same time in the same area. The department also reported the theft of a Starlight gooseneck trailer off State Highway NN.

As a preventative measure, the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office has stated it “will be conducting field interview stops with vehicles pulling farm equipment and stock trailers late at night” with the intent to identify vehicle occupants and determine their actions to protect citizens and area farmers.

The Jasper County Sheriff’s Office also recommended enhancing farm security by getting to know neighbors and their vehicles and trailers as well as knowing how to reach them in an emergency. Avoid parking equipment near roadways and do not leave equipment easily towed by a pickup truck near roads or unattended driveways. If you have to leave equipment in a field, they recommended using brush, tree lines or other obstructions to hide the machinery. Lock gates near roadways with chains and padlocks thieves would not be able to easily cut with bolt cutters. Plan ahead to avoid leaving livestock penned near roads.

The sheriff’s department also recommended branding cattle as “it is the only recognized legal method to identify livestock.” Ear tags, notches and tattoos are not legal proof of ownership. Livestock producers need to keep fences intact and check fences after strong winds. Check livestock and equipment often and report missing items in a timely manner.

The law enforcement agency suggested keeping records of serial numbers on equipment by taking a photo of the machine as well as the serial number. They also recommended contacting them with any questions.

If you have information on farm thefts or see suspicious vehicles or activity, please contact your local law enforcement agency immediately at their non-emergency number. In case of an emergency, call 911. £