THEFT & LAW Law Enforcement Tips
Don’t Leave Your Corrals Open to Theft
By Kristin Lewis Hawkins
An often-overlooked theft risk can involve items usually considered immoveable by normal standards. However, nothing around the ranch is safe from a motivated thief, even down to corrals and chutes. Whether they are stolen for scrap, resale, or used to steal livestock, portable and permanent corrals can both play a role in theft at the ranch.
TSCRA Special Ranger John Cummings, District 5 in East Oklahoma, has some experience chasing corral thieves. He has worked several cases that involved stolen portable corrals and has some tips for folks to avoid becoming a victim. He also has advice for preventing thieves from using permanent corrals to steal livestock.
- Make sure portable equipment and corrals are marked and identifiable. Record model and serial numbers and take photographs to place in a file.
- Many times the manufacturer’s identification plate or stickers can be easily removed. Cummings recommends that owners place a brand, license number or some other identifying marks somewhere on the equipment where it will not be readily noticeable to thieves.
- Set up or store portable systems out of sight and away from roadways, if possible.
- Use a heavy chain and padlock to secure the system when not in use.
- Use wheel locks or a hitch locking device to help deter theft of portable systems.
- Check the equipment on a regular basis and report any theft immediately to law enforcement.
Special Ranger Cummings said that many reports of cattle theft also come from owners of permanent corrals and pens that were used by thieves to load stolen cattle. TSCRA’s Special Rangers recommend pens and corrals be built away from roadways and out of sight, if possible. If your pen is already built and viewable from the road, follow these steps to avoid having them used for theft:
- Padlock corral gates and chutes to deter use by thieves.
- Install lighting to help deter use at night.
- Check the corrals and pens on a regular basis
“Locking up portable systems and gates will not stop a determined thief, but they will deter some of them,” said Cummings. “If thieves do cut the locks to take the system or to use the permanent facilities to load stolen cattle, the cut locks and chains provide evidence of a theft and possible forensic evidence that could help identify the suspects involved.”
He recommends that any evidence be left untouched so it can be properly documented and processed by law enforcement as evidence. This includes any tire or shoe impressions left at the scene. Preserving as much information as possible for investigators will help everyone and possibly cut down on the time it may take to find the culprits.
By following these steps and keeping a close eye on your equipment, you won’t leave yourself open to thieves. ❚
“Safeguard Your Corrals” is from the July 2017 issue of The Cattleman magazine.