Cattle Theft Could Become a 3rd Degree Felony

Cattle theft is on the rise in the Panhandle and ranchers say it is due to the poor economy.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association tells NewsChannel 10 they hope to reduce the rate of theft by passing legislation that will create a harsher punishment for stealing cattle.

Executive Director Larry Gray says, "It's a state jail felony to steal ten head or less which is just punishable by up to two years in the state jail and we're going to try to get it raised to a third degree felony which is punishable by two to ten years. "

Gray says to minimize theft ranchers should brand all their cattle and tighten security around their lots.  "Well it's devastating to ranchers especially now that the states in a drought and with the down cattle market and so the loss of 20-30 head of cattle is just catastrophic to them."

Ranchers say they would have to cut their own spending and support of area non profits if cattle theft takes a big enough hit to their own business.