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Texas Legislators Toughen Cattle Rustling Punishment

May 13, 2009

Beef Today Editors

Earlier this week, Texas legislators passed a measure that increased the punishment for those stealing livestock.

SSB 1163, introduced by Senator Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) and Representative Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), unanimously passed the Texas House and would make the theft of even a single cow or horse a third-degree felony, which carries two to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.

"Texas is the number one cattle producing state in the nation, but the penalty for cattle theft in Texas is more lenient than the neighboring states of Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana," says Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association President Dave Scott of Richmond, Texas. "Cattle theft in Texas has more than doubled during the past year. To protect this $15-billion-a-year industry, Texas needs a stricter penalty."

Currently, the theft of fewer than 10 head of cattle, sheep, swine, goats and exotic animals constitutes a state jail felony, also known as a fourth-degree felony, with a maximum sentence of up to two years in a state jail. Under the proposed law, the theft of cows, horses and exotic livestock in any amount would be a third-degree felony.

TSCRA has 29 special rangers throughout Texas and Oklahoma to investigate reports of stolen cattle. They dealt with 6,404 reports of stolen cattle in 2008, compared with 2,400 reports the previous year.

You can read more from the TSCRA by following this link.

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