State Cattlemen Cheer Bills That Would Up Penalties for Cattle Theft in OklahomaMon, 26 Jan 2015 04:46:49 CST
With a single five hundred pound calf worth fifteen hundred dollars or more, the temptation to round up several head in a remote field by thieves is at a historic high. To battle the lure of a quick buck, a pair of bills have been filed in the Oklahoma legislature that aim to address the increase in cattle theft in Oklahoma. According to Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association president Richard Gebhart, the bills are much needed as "cattle theft has more than doubled in the last year alone."
Senator Eddie Fields, Wynona has authored SB 299 in the Oklahoma Senate and Freshman Representative Casey Murdock, Felt has authored HB 1387 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Both bills increase the jail and fine penalties for cattle theft and, most importantly, combine the two.
"Current state law says that the penalty is jail or a fine. OCA is in favor of convicted thieves receiving both!"Gebhart said. Specifically, the bills would increase the jail time from 3 to 10 years to 5 to 15 years; increase the cap in fine from $500,000 to $750,000 and replace the 'or' with 'and' thus making the overall penalty both jail and a fine.
According to Representative Murdock, "Stolen cattle can mean the end of a ranching family. If a thief hits a convenience store, most likely that store will be open tomorrow. If a thief steals some cattle, that family is in danger of losing their whole farm or ranch."
Senator Fields agreed and added, "Ranchers depend upon their cattle for their business and livelihood. A stolen TV means no movies for a while, stolen cattle means a ranching family goes out of business."
Data from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation indicates that 14 convictions were given for cattle larceny in 2014. Cattle theft data from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry shows that reported cattle thefts more than doubled from 2013 to 2014.
"A major reason for increasing the penalty is to reduce the temptation for stealing cattle," added Senator Fields.
Representative Murdock added, "We need a strong statement to would be thieves that says if you steal cattle, you going to receive a big penalty."
The Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association has prioritized the bills for this legislative session.
"We really appreciate Senator Fields and Representative Murdock standing up for Oklahoma's cattle producers by filing these important bills," shared OCA's Gebhart.
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