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Livestock thefts a recent problem in Ohio


By HeatHer Hetterick, OHiO ag Net It appears everyone is cashing in on


higher livestock prices, even thieves. It seems that the theft of livestock is


on the rise based upon recent events around Ohio. Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey said his office had received several reports in the recent weeks about the theft of hogs from a farm on the Ohio-Indiana state line near Fort Recovery. An investigation determined that


two men were removing hogs from a farm in Mercer County and taking them to a site near Bryant, Indiana in Jay County. Two women were arrested at a nearby livestock company attempt- ing to sell the stolen hogs. The men took more than two-dozen,


130-pound animals from a barn after dark over the course of 10 weeks. They apparently loaded them into the back of a Chevy S10 pickup truck equipped with a camper top and then drove them to Indiana. Last month, both Ricky Crouch and


Chad Crouch were arraigned on charges of breaking and entering and theft of the animals. Their bonds were set each at $50,000 in cash. Lisa Crouch and her daughter-in-law entered pleas of no contest to misdemeanor charges of receiving stolen property. Both were found guilty and ordered to undergo


pre-sentence investigations. Sentencing will be March 8, 2012. The judge released both Lisa and Christina from jail on their own recognizance. The hogs were owned by Cooper Farms. Around the same time as the hog


thefts, more than a dozen steers valued upward of $10,000 had been stolen from an Allen county farm. “I had noticed that the first pen on


the end of our cattle barn looked a little thin. I said something to my brother about it. We didn’t do anything about it until a few days later when we cleaned the pen out and we were able do a physical count. That’s when I knew it didn’t match up with number of steers we put in there a month prior,” said Ray Bonifas who feeds out steers with his brother Larry west of Delphos. Neither of the brothers live at the


actual farm site. They asked a neighbor if he had seen or heard anything unusual. He had indeed heard noises and commotion late in the evening the night prior to Ray’s speculation that steers were missing. The Bonifas brothers figure 14


Holstein steers were stolen around Feb. 4. The steers ranged in size from 450- 750 pounds. “Not only did we lose the animals,


we lost the profit from when we would have sold those animals,” Bonifas said.


No Payment, No Interest . . . They estimate those numbers togeth-


er total around $10,000. Authorities investigating the case say this happens more often than you think, it’s just not reported. Often, just a few animals are missing or farmers don’t have a way to prove the animals were there. Bonifas believes livestock theft is happening more frequently and people are reluc- tant to report it. Having had his cattle and profits


stolen, Bonifas has some advice for other livestock producers. • Keep really good records. Know exactly what you have.


• Even if you only have a few ani- mals, keep track of them. Thieves will only take as many as they think you won’t miss.


• Be mindful of access to your barn. Have something to prevent vehi- cles from getting to your barn at night or when you are not around.


• Remember these are preconceived notions. People that do this don’t just stop and load up animals. He believes they do a dry run and check out places. Be on the lookout for unfamiliar vehicles.


In hindsight, the security cameras


they considered buying would have paid for themselves. “A couple years ago we evaluated the cost of putting in security cameras.


We really didn’t think it was neces- sary,” Bonifas said. ”When you consid- er how easy it would be for someone to load up as much as a semi load of cat- tle, really in the grand scheme of things, the cost of a security camera is well worth it.” They have called area sale barns and


have people on the lookout for their steers. They are also offering a reward for anyone with information that would lead to an arrest. “We are Ohio Farm Bureau mem-


bers,” Bonifas said. “A benefit of that is offering up to a $2,500 reward for infor- mation that would lead to a conviction. So, we’re offering the $2,500 reward.”


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Ohio’s Country Journal • ocj.com • March 2012 • Livestock 37 Turf


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