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SBI investigates Alamance County cattle rustling case

Posted May 1, 2015

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— The Old West crime of cattle rustling is alive and well in Alamance County, where farmer Ronald Kirkpatrick is offering a $10,000 reward for information about how black Angus cattle in his K-Farms herd came to be replaced with cattle of lesser quality.

Kirkpatrick said told investigators that he counted the herd in early January and all were accounted for, but a recount on April 12 showed a discrepancy, so he reported the theft to the Alamance County Sheriff's Office.

Now the State Bureau of Investigation is involved, and the county district attorney is considering filing charges.

SBI Agent Gerald Thomas said that 114 cows and 75 calves with an estimated total value of $371,700 were stolen from K-Farms sometime between March and mid-April.

"That number is real big anywhere," said Bryan Blinson, executive director of the N.C. Cattlemen's Association.

"When you're talking about that kind of number, you're talking about multiple trailer loads. It's a big one."

Kenneth Sykes, who lives down the road from K-Farms, said he noticed a heavy-duty pickup truck making multiple trips.

"And it was always loaded going in and loaded going out,” Sykes said, but it didn't arouse his suspicion.

Another neighbor, J.T. Riley, noticed the traffic too.

"I think it was Easter weekend, and we seen truckload after truckload going in and out," he said.

Kirkpatrick told investigators that he discovered approximately 30 to 40 cheaper-grade cows in his field and suspects an employee may have replaced the Angus cattle with a lesser breed in hopes no one would notice, Thomas said.

Riley agrees with that suspicion

"I actually think it was an inside job because it had to be. Don’t nobody have keys to it except for who works for it,” he said.

“I wouldn’t never think somebody would come out here and take this man’s cattle, you know, like they did," Sykes said. "That’s pretty low.”

Riley said he worries he let his neighbor down.

"If I could have caught on to it sooner, I could have stopped everything,” he said.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call Agent Thomas at 336-256-1362.

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