An increase in cattle thefts across Kansas has prompted an increase in the state’s efforts to combat cattle theft. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and the Kansas Department of Agriculture are joining forces to investigate and prosecute cattle thefts.

Lyon County Sheriff Jeff Cope confirmed that there has been one recent cattle theft in Lyon County.

“We have seen one in the county,” Cope said. “I believe there has also been one in Chase County.”

Preventing cattle thefts can be difficult. However, Cope encourages cattle owners to maintain an eye on their property and report any concerns they may have.

“If they see activity that is unusual or not planned then they should report it,” Cope said.

Schmidt’s office has formed a new Livestock/Brand Investigation Unit within the office’s consumer protection division and hired longtime Kansas lawman Kendal Lothman to lead the unit. Lothman has been a law enforcement officer for 22 years, including six years as Kiowa County sheriff.

“This agreement is a great example of finding efficient ways for government to better serve the people of Kansas,” Schmidt said. “Combining the law enforcement authority of the attorney general’s office with the livestock investigations authority of the Department of Agriculture allows us to better protect Kansas ranchers from cattle theft.”

Dr. Bill Brown, Kansas Animal Health Commissioner, also welcomed the new collaborative effort.

“This is a good day for Kansans,” Brown said. “Livestock are a valuable asset and it is important that we remain diligent and assist in any way possible to protect those investments. Having an investigator in the field will provide expertise to local law officials to help support our Brand Program.”

Record cattle prices have led to increases in cattle thefts. The new unit will respond to requests from local law enforcement agencies for help in investigations.

“Prices are really, really high,” Brody Peak, owner of Emporia Livestock Sales said. “We are kind of at an all-time high.”

Peak reports at Emporia Livestock Sales they usually sell cattle for the same people on a regular basis. This helps to ensure that cattle being sold is not stolen.

“We know who they are. We kind of know what they have,” said Peak.

Schmidt recommends that producers or others involved in the livestock industry who suspect thefts or improper cattle sales should contact their local sheriff or police department, which will request assistance if needed.

“If we get people that we don’t know, or they are from a long ways away, then we tend to kind of suspect something.”

Anyone who has questions about cattle theft or need to report a theft should contact the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office at 342-5545.