Coleman, Texas – A Rockwood, Texas man was arrested and charged with second degree theft of livestock and sentenced to 15 years in prison on Feb. 2 after stealing $3,000 worth of cattle from a rancher located in Coleman, Texas.
The investigation was led by Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Ranger Joe Roberts and Coleman County Sheriff’s Deputy Archie Lancaster.
Roberts received a phone call on March 6, 2014 from a ranch hand who stated that three head of cattle from were stolen from his boss’s ranch in Coleman, Texas. The foreman told Roberts that he found four wires cut on the victim’s fence and a gate going into the neighbor’s property had been moved.
The suspect, Don Ernest Estes, 40, of Rockwood, Texas owns the land neighboring the victim’s property where the fence and gate had been tampered with. Roberts was able to determine that Estes had stolen the cattle from the victim, whose land shared a fence line.
The victim stated that the cattle missing would have weighed about 650 pounds and were either black or red heifers or steers with no brands.
Roberts contacted the owner and bookkeeper of the Coleman Livestock Auction and the owner of the auction told Roberts that Estes sold a red 615 pound steer at the auction on Feb. 5.
Roberts was able to identify the steer because it had a blue ear tag in the left ear that said “Estes.” Later that week, Lancaster and the ranch owners found and confirmed the identity of the other two head of cattle on another piece of land, which was being leased by Estes. The cattle contained fresh brands on them with the letter “E.”
Estes was arrested and charged with 3rd degree cattle theft, but the charge was later enhanced by Coleman County District Attorney Heath Hemphill to a 2nd degree felony due to prior convictions. Estes pled guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in the state penitentiary for cattle theft and prior criminal mischief.
TSCRA would like to thank the Coleman County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance with this investigation.
“It is crucial for ranchers to always brand and keep an accurate count on their cattle,” said Roberts. “Taking these precautions serve as the first line of defense against cattle theft. Additionally, it is important for ranchers to report suspicious activity to their local law enforcement as quickly as possible. In this case, we were able to work with the victim and local law enforcement to investigate the crime and arrest another cattle thief. We will always work to seek justice for ranchers when necessary.”
TSCRA has 30 special rangers stationed strategically throughout Texas and Oklahoma who have in-depth knowledge of the cattle industry and are trained in all facets of law enforcement. All are commissioned as Special Rangers by the Texas Department of Public Safety and/or the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
TSCRA is a 138-year-old trade association and is the largest and oldest livestock organization based in Texas. TSCRA has more than 16,500 beef cattle operations, ranching families and businesses as members. These members represent approximately 50,000 individuals directly involved in ranching and beef production who manage 4 million head of cattle on 76 million acres of range and pasture land primarily in Texas and Oklahoma, but throughout the Southwest.