On Easter Sunday, Larry Mallory from Mount Vernon woke up to find 17 calves and a cow had been stolen. "The cow was branded, and I'm sure they didn't want her," he notes. "They gathered them up in a pen, sorted the calves off, and they went in and loaded them. I'm sure they hauled them off with a stolen trailer." He is one of many that have started branding. "We're going to start branding the baby calves, as much as I hate to."
They went to a lot of work to steal them. "I never dreamed somebody would go in there and sort the calves off the cows and steal them," Mallory says. "They're not afraid of the law." He has heard of cattlemen being stolen from three times. Most thefts have occurred within Jasper, Lawrence, Greene and Berry Counties. "In some places, you can't go two or three miles without driving by farms calves have been stolen from."
Cattle thieves following a pattern
Thieves often steal trailers first, a loss which can reach $15,000. "It's always the same scenario," Mallory says. "They steal a trailer, they cut your fence down, steal them and normally the trailer shows up somewhere else later." Losing calves to theft has a devastating impact on a farmer, Mallory says. "You finally get some calves ready to sell, and there's nothing to sell," he says. "Everything I make or lose in my lifetime is connected to cattle somehow."
Although they are criminals, the thieves know what they are doing. "These guys are not scared of getting caught," he says. "It's almost like they're invisible." Thieves even stole cameras one farmer even installed after a previous theft. "They rub it in everybody's face," Mallory says. "Something needs to be done."