With Texas caught in the midst of a brutal drought, a new crime is on the rise: hay rustling. Hay has been disappearing from farms, depriving cattle of much-needed nourishment, the Wall Street Journal reports. Stolen hay reports remain sporadic—the Journal catches up with one farmer who lost 1,700 bales inside a week—but there have been enough to prompt police in several counties to step up their hayfield protection efforts.
Usually hay is plentiful and cheap. Normally a six-foot bale of hay, weighing nearly a ton, can be had for around $30. But the drought has decimated hay crops, meaning hard-hit areas have to ship in hay for up to $90 a bale. “People start counting their hay like they count their money,” says one cowboy.