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Texas Ag Commissioner: Cattle Rustling Crimes On The Rise

A ranch hand drives cattle. (credit: John Moore/Getty Images)

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Today's Texas rancher not only faces the challenges of a lingering drought but must still battle the age-old problem of cattle rustling -- a problem that has plagued the industry for more than a century.

Peace officers with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) investigate some 1,000 agricultural crimes each year. According to Agriculture Commission Todd Staples, TSCRA Special Rangers have been very effective. "Last year over $4 million of livestock and equipment were recovered, while convictions led to a whopping 279 years in prison," he said.

News about new consumer electronics and electric cars are commonplace, but cattle rustling losses continue to be not only substantial but on the rise. "Last year, for instance, more than 10,000 head of cattle and horses were reported missing or stolen -- a 27-percent increase from 2011," Staples explained.

Each year TRCSA Special Rangers recover an average of $5 million in stolen cattle and assets. While the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) commissions the peace officers, no taxpayer funds pay for the group. TSCRA membership dues from more than 15,000 ranching families and businesses pay for all the necessary resources to fund the Rangers.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association was founded in 1877 and is the largest and oldest livestock association in the state.

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