Special Ranger Tips: The Best of the Best
This year we’ve brought you some of the best theft prevention advice from TSCRA’s Special Rangers. Hopefully, these tips will help you secure your property and protect against thieves. Keep the big ones in mind and you could save yourself a chunk of change and a big headache.
Brand your cattle
One of the best-selling t-shirts for sale in the Cattle Raisers Trading Company store says, “Trust your neighbor but brand your cattle.” It’s likely to bring a smile to your face because it’s true; branding is the only sure-fire way to make sure you can claim ownership of your animals. If your cattle are stolen and sold at a livestock market in Texas, TSCRA will have a record of the transaction, which will greatly improve the likelihood that an investigation will have a positive outcome. Thieves often prefer animals that can’t be traced, and there are plenty of other cattle out there with no distinguishing marks or brands that are less risky.
Lock it up
Trailer, barn, gate or vehicle, it’s always best to keep it secured. Thieves like an easy payday, and seeing a well-made lock will often tell them to move along. Always keep barn and shop doors, tack rooms and trailers locked, even when you’re home. It only takes a moment for saddles or tools to disappear. Don’t keep keys in vehicles and use wheel or steering column locks to make sure they stay where you put them.
Keep it out of sight
If a thief can’t see it, they won’t know it’s there. If they don’t know it’s there, they can’t steal it. Don’t make it easier for trailers, UTVs or tractors to fall into someone else’s hands. Keep it out of sight.
This goes for cattle, too. Don’t leave unsupervised cattle penned by a road or a trailer backed up to a pen. Too often a producer will find that the trailer he backed up to load the cattle he penned last night is gone, along with his cattle. If possible, move pens out of sight and don’t store your trailer nearby.
Schemes involving checks have become popular this year. If a buyer offers a personal or cashier’s check for an amount other than the agreed selling price, be suspicious. If you’re unfamiliar with someone presenting any sort of check, ask a bank to verify that it’s good. For example, don’t accept a check that includes an additional amount for transportation with the expectation you’ll deposit the check and pay the driver. Trust your gut feeling — if it feels off, it likely is. A true, honest buyer will often understand and work with you.
Call it in
When in doubt, call your local law enforcement authorities or TSCRA Special Ranger. You are one of the best tools in their investigation kit because you know who doesn’t belong in your area or looks suspicious.
TSCRA also operates the Operation Cow Thief tip line that offers a cash reward for information leading to the arrest and/or grand jury indictment of individuals for theft of livestock or related property. Anonymity is guaranteed. To provide information, call 888-830-2333.
Hang your sign
TSCRA’s iconic blue “POSTED” sign is one of the best deterrents you can have against theft. Thieves have admitted they’ve passed up a place that had a blue sign on the gate. Announcing that you are a member of TSCRA reminds folks that TSCRA’s law enforcement division has national and international reach. Reports on missing and stolen livestock and equipment are regularly distributed to TSCRA’s network of more than 700 law enforcement agencies. The special rangers investigate approximately 1,000 agricultural crime cases and recover an average of $5 million in stolen cattle and assets for ranchers, annually.
If you don’t know your ranger or haven’t spoken with him lately, look him up in the back of The Cattleman magazine, in the “Resources” section of The Cattleman Now app or click here to find your ranger at tscra.org. They are always happy to help — good guys to know and a handy number to have saved in your cell phone.
“Special Ranger Tips” is excerpted monthly from The Cattleman magazine. Join today to start your subscription.