The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on November 17, 1968 · Page 140
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 140

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 17, 1968
Page 140
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Page 140 article text (OCR)

They went that-a -way In Palm Beach County, rustlers in speedy pick-up trucks drive to an almost inaccessible pasture and remove 7.1 head of cattle. The loss: $30,000. In Gilchrist County bold thieves take advantage of a ranch owner's absence one day to take 39 head of cattle. The loss: $12,000. Scenes like these happen all across Florida. It may bo a surprise to some, but cattle rustling did not die with the old "Wild West." Today's rustlers are modern outlaws who sometimes stalk their prey with tranquili-zer-tipped arrows; communicate with two-way radios; make their escapes with fast Pucks or even airplanes. Who are these modern rustlers, these outlaws responsible for a $500, 000 to $4,000,000 a year loss to cattlemen? Some of them are members of professional gangs who steal for profit. Others work alone, taking an occasional cow to fill the family freezer. "We feel a lot of stolen cattle are going into individual freezers," says Latimer Turner, a Sarasota rancher and president of the Florida Cattlemen's Association. After shooting the nearest cow (some rustlers have been known to use tranquilizer tipped arrows giving them the advantage of silence) a typical thief cuts a rancher's fence, hacks off the hind quarters of the animal, and hauls it away in the back of, a station wagon or truck. The remains are left to buzzards. On large ranches, it may be weeks before the animal is found. I!y that time, cattlemen find a pile of bones and wonder how the cow met its death. president of the Florida Call lemon's Association. "A guy can kill two or three animals a week," points out John DuPuis, well-known rancher and chairman of the brands and thefts committee of the Florida Cattlemen's Association," and make a $200 to $300 income." In rustling "rings," professional thieves often use trucks to haul away ten or more cows. Often the theft is committed in the day when a rancher is attending an auction or away on business. One professional mode of operation, used at truck stops: a rustler backs his trailer up to another trailer, opens the door, lets one or two animals go into his truck, and goes on to another truck. Meanwhile, accomplices are entertaining the unsuspecting truck drivers. Cattle are sometimes brought to a central location the night before they go to market to save time the following morning. Taking advantage of the situation, thieves will "cut out" several cows from the herd during the night and drive off. By the time the theft is discovered, cows and rustlers are far away. Organized crime can also be a factor in cattle rustling. In some cases, as a market for stolen cows. A rich gangster, for example, buys a restaurant as a "front." By purchasing stolen cattle he pays only half price the gangster can increase his income by as much as $30,000 a year, estimates lligbie. And the money is tax free. lligbie outlines one way in which a large scale rustler can operate: The thief buys a 10,000 to ir,U00-ucrc ranch in an area where there are many ranches. Making friends with other cattlemen, the rustler learns when they are a w a y. Then gradually he moves cattle from neighbor- i Josidcs stocking the freezer, the lone thief can sell his prize to a "packer or restaurant or hamburger joint or to some guy to cut it up and sell it in the retail trade," says Arthur lligbie, executive vice 8 AH Honda Magazine

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