Last week, more than two dozen hogs were stolen in Mercer County and those thieves caught. Now, more than a dozen steers valued upwards of $10,000 have been stolen from an Allen County Farm.
“I had noticed that the first pen on the end of our cattle barn looked a little thin. I said something to my brother about it. We didn’t do anything about it until a few days later when we cleaned the pen out and we were able do a physical count. That’s when I knew it didn’t match up with number of steers we put in there a month prior, ” said Ray Bonifas who feeds out steers with his brother Larry west of Delphos.
Neither of the brothers live at the actual farm site. They asked a neighbor if he had seen or heard anything unusual. He had indeed heard noises and commotion late in the evening the night prior to Ray’s speculation that steers were missing.
The Bonifas brothers figure 14 Holstein steers were stolen around Feb. 4. The steers range in size from 450-750 pounds.
“Not only did we lose the animals, we lost the profit from when we would have sold those animals,” Ray said.
They estimate those numbers together total around $10,000. Authorities investigating the case say this happens more often than you think, it’s just not reported. Often, just a few animals are missing or farmers don’t have a way prove the animals were there. Bonifas believes livestock theft is happening more frequently and people are reluctant to report it.
Having had his cattle and profits stolen, Ray has some advice for other livestock producers.
- Keep really good records. Know exactly what you have.
- Even if you only have a few animals, keep track of them. Thieves will only take as many as they think you won’t miss.
- Be mindful of access to your barn. Have something to prevent vehicles from getting to your barn at night or when you are not around.
- Remember these are preconceived notions. People that do this don’t just stop and load up animals. He believes they do a dry run and check out places. Be on the lookout for unfamiliar vehicles.
In hindsight, the security cameras they considered buying would have paid for themselves right now.
“A couple years ago we evaluated the cost of putting in security cameras. We really didn’t think it was necessary,” Ray said. “When you consider how easy it would be for someone to load up as much as a semi load of cattle, really in the grand scheme of things, the cost of a security camera is well worth it.”
They have called area sale barns and have people on the lookout for their steers. They are also offering a reward for anyone with information that would lead to an arrest.
“We are Ohio Farm Bureau members,” Bonifas said. “A benefit of that is offering up to a $2,500 reward for information that would lead to a conviction. So, we’re offering the $2,500 reward.”