NORTH LAKELAND (FOX 13) - If you live in a bigger city, you may find it hard to believe, but cattle rustling is still alive and well.
At least in Polk County, where six young guys were arrested for stealing eight head from a North Lakeland ranch.
"If you decide to get into the cattle rustling business, we're gonna throw a lasso around you, and throw you in the pen, the county jail," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told FOX 13 on Tuesday.
Actually, the accused rustlers may face more than just jail time. They are accused of felonies, which could mean prison time.
It is not unusual for cattle to come up missing on open property. The cattle that were stolen from the ranch on West Bella Vista Street and Walker Roa are owned by a New Jersey man and cared for by his sister, who lives in Pinellas County. No one lives on the property, so in many cases, they are a prime target for rustlers.
They were sold at Cattlemen's Livestock Auction in Lakeland and other places.
It is hard for detectives to track the stolen cattle down because they can be quickly moved out of state. Local auctions usually only take down a seller's name, address, and how many head they're bringing in. After less than a minute on the block, they're sold. New owners usually ship the young ones to feed lots in the Midwest where they are fattened for slaughter.
So in this recent case, detectives have the suspected bovine bandits, but eight missing cattle may be well on their way, hoofing it to parts unknown.