Law enforcement officers warn state lawmakers that vigilante justice is close at hand in Missouri’s cattle-raising areas. They hope they can get some help from the legislature.
Two members of the Governor’s Task Force on Cattle theft support longer mandatory prison sentences for rustlers who don’t learn anything the first time they do prison time for rustling. One task force member tells senators their biggest fear is that cattle farmers will take things in their own hands because cattle theft is such a big problem that some farmers have tried to form armed local patrol groups.
Task force member Steven Crane he’s afraid that without teeth in the law, some farmer will become a criminal because he takes things into his own hands with a cattle thief.
The task force counted 22-hundred cattle stolen last year in 46 Missouri counties. The group estimates total losses to rustlers last year at more than four million dollars. The two officers meeting with a Senate committee say tougher laws will send a tougher message to the thieves.