A crime of the Old West is becoming a serious problem in 21st-century Texas, the Los Angeles Times reports. Cases of cattle rustling have more than tripled over the last couple of years, a trend investigators blame on the recession and on city-dwelling ranch owners who don't take the time to check on their cattle. A good young animal can easily fetch up to $700 at auction and thieves are finding more sophisticated ways to hide brands.
The rustlers "disgrace the cowboy name," says one Texas Ranger who spends his days checking crime scenes and searching auctions for stolen livestock. "They're half cowboys, so they know how to talk the talk and walk the walk and all that stuff. And they know how to work cattle and load 'em up," he says. "But a true cowboy wouldn't steal."