The Miller County Sheriff’s Office has helped create a group called “Farmer’s outlook” as a way to deter cattle theft.

From June of 2015 until June of 2016, at least 26 cattle had been reported stolen in Miller County. The most recent theft according to the sheriff’s office happened in December of 2015 when more than 20 black Angus heifers were stolen. At that time, each heifer was worth about $2500. The Sheriff’s Office notes not every theft is reported.

The group is based off a similar program in Greene County, Missouri where cattle theft is very high. The MCSO raised more than $3,000 for the group, and handed over the money Thursday afternoon. Legally, the sheriff’s office can not be in charge of that money or its distribution.

Wendy Cantrelle owns the Miller County Regional Stockyards and worked as a liaison between the sheriff’s office and ranchers to help organize the program.

Cantrelle also owns farms in Greene County and saw how successful their program was in Springfield and decided to bring a similar program to Miller County.

The group, made up of banks and ranching groups, is working to get a committee together. They expect the committee will be about five or six people. The committee will then be in charge of distributing security cameras to nearly anyone who needs them. Sheriff Abbott said they could be ranchers, sell tractors, or own a gas station on a rural road.

The yet-to-be-formed-committee will decide how long each party will get to use the cameras. Greene County’s program loans them out for about three months at a time.

Along with the cameras, the users will receive signs initially provided and donated by the Miller County Sheriff’s Office. The signs warn of security cameras on the premises. At the end of the three months (or however long the committee decides to loan the cameras), the farmers or business owners will still be able to keep the signs on their property as a deterrent.

Cantrelle says many farmers depend on the money they receive for selling their calves. She says one calf can help a farmer pay the mortgage, or go toward building a new barn. She says cattle theft also affects banks since they are the one loaning the money to the farmers.

Cantrelle says it’s hard to stop of a thief and in desperate economic times people do desperate things. Cantrelle noted when the price of beef is high, cattle theft notably goes up. But even when the price dips, there seems to be a spike in the number of thefts because more people are desperate for the money.

It can take ranchers or farmers weeks or even months to know if they’ve had cattle stolen since its common for them not to see them everyday. And in Mid-Missouri, Cantrelle said it only the thieves about four to five hours to have those stolen cattle out of the state, making it nearly impossible to track.

To get involved with the program you can contact the Miller County Sheriff’s Office at (573) 369 – 2341.