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Cattle Rustling Rears its Ugly Head in the Ozarks Again

150 head of cattle were stolen from Jasper County, and now nearby counties like Lawrence and Dade are on high alert as part of the "circuit."

September 08, 2011|Joanna Small and Joel Girdner | Reporter and Photographer

MILLER, Mo. — Cattle rustling once again rearing its ugly head in the Ozarks.  150 head of cattle were stolen in Jasper County and the sheriff there is warning residents the thieves may be making the rounds.
  
Law enforcement calls it a circuit.  If rustlers hit a county that touches yours, odds are you're next.  That's a scary prospect-especially, if you've already been a victim.

Allen Bloomer didn't inherit the family business; he built it.  "1976 I bought 13 head of cows; I was a sophomore in high school." So you'd better believe when someone sabotaged it, the crime was personal.  "That really hacks me off," Bloomer says.

It was financial as well.  "About $19,000."  That was the cost of 31 cattle in 2003.  "It'd be like somebody working in town and losing their income for a whole year," Bloomer explains.

Eight years later, their value's gone up, and so have Bloomer's defenses.


Even though nobody's messed with Bloomer's herd since, there have certainly been some attempts.  He and his neighbors have spotted a number of suspicious looking vehicles, usually parked at a small church, across the road from one of Bloomer's pastures.

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Now he brands the animals and keeps his gate under lock and key.  "I've got it down inside a piece of pipe where you can't get bolt cutter to it," he shows us, lifting the contraption he welded.

Good thinking, says Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay, because the restless rustlers could be coming; they're a nomadic herd, traveling between Jasper, Lawrence, Barton and Dade Counties.  "Usually those, sometimes Greene and Barry County, Newton County.  We have worked several times with those counties, their sheriffs, when we suspect we might get hit," says DeLay.  Unfortunately the thieves are hard to catch. "We're still looking for that one big break," DeLay tells us.

Bloomer got a break.  His rustlers were never arrested, but his lifelong livelihood was re-stocked.

 "The only time in my life i was happy with my insurance," he says, smiling.

  The Barton County sheriff was in Lawrence County Thursday following up on a lead to one of the most recent cattle theft cases.
 
  21 head of cattle were loaded into a stolen trailer in his county.

  Lawrence County's last cattle theft was in spring of last year.

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