The article, by staff Eric Adler, talks to the Darrow and Pipkin families in southwest Missouri have seen their cattle and neighbors cattle literally disappear in the night. Large groups of the herd, sometimes as many as 40 or more, go missing. Fences are cut, pasture land trespassed, and high-priced calves lost.

But there's a silver lining. The Greene County sheriff and his staff, aided by the Missouri State Crime Laboratory, along with other state and county officials, worked together to apprehend a suspect with a long history of cattle rustling.

The smoking gun in this case was a used tissue left behind at the scene of the heist. State officials used DNA technology and records to identify the suspect, whose DNA had been stored from previous criminal case files.

What's even better about the story is how it shows the tight relations these ranchers have to their livestock. Missouri cow-calf operations are generally small, around 36 head per ranch, according to the Missouri Cattlemen's Association. That means rustling inflicts a high cost - and a personal one.

The story says the cattle lost by Bob and Evelyn Darrow, about 13 cows, "were part of their livelihood as well as animals they had raised from calves and even named. Sage and Pink, Hello and Rosalie, Star, Silk and, among others, Evelyn Darrow’s favorite, Jeepers."


Stories like these do a valuable service for today's readers. They show how a crime like rustling, which sounds like a ruse from a bygone era, has real victims. It also shows how rural ag producers take animal care seriously, and establish a real bond to their animals. The story also examines issues related to animal ID in states that don't brand cattle.

Best of all it shows how law enforcement can use modern technology to sniff out criminal activity, and how cattle rustling is more complicated than most would tend to believe. end mark