Three Omaha residents are suspected of raiding cattle under the cover of night from farm pens in western Iowa and northeast Nebraska, authorities said.
Ervin Jacob, 57, who was arrested last week, is being held on three Iowa theft counts. James Brunzo, 49, is charged in two of the Iowa thefts and is being held in Pottawattamie County, Iowa. Amy Springer, 42, is charged in a search warrant with one Iowa theft. She remains at large. Online court records don't list attorneys for any of them.
Sheriff Darby McLaren in Cass County, Iowa, said the three have been linked to May and June thefts from two farms in his county.
"They just literally, in the middle of the night, backed up with a trailer, loaded three or four cattle and took off," McLaren told the Omaha World-Herald.
In Nebraska, Sgt. Dave Brown of the Cuming County Sheriff's Office said the three are "people of interest" in the thefts of the trailer and nine animals. Court records don't show that they've been charged in Nebraska.
Investigators believe the thefts began in Nebraska on May 4, Brown said, when the trailer and two head of cattle were taken from a farm near West Point. Five head were reported stolen from Wisner Feedlots six days later.
Then two farms operated by the Freund family near Lewis, Iowa, were hit by rustlers in late May and in June.
The stolen cattle were unloaded to unsuspecting buyers at various Iowa and Nebraska sale barns.