As cattle prices rise, the theft of livestock is a growing problem in Oklahoma…
Welcome back. It was Valentine’s Day in 1866 when just after 2 p.m. the bank was robbed in Liberty, Missouri. An estimated sixty thousand dollars was stolen and a nineteen year old innocent bystander named George Wymore was murdered. In addition to being the first bank robbery during operating hours ever recorded in the United States, this was also the first bank robbery committed by Frank and Jesse James. According to Time/Life’s The Gunfigters the brothers went on to rob twelve more banks, seven trains and five stage coaches in eleven states and territories across the country.
On April 3, 1882 Jesse James’ career as an outlaw came to an end when he was killed by Bob Ford. James thought Ford was his friend but when he turned his back, Ford shot him in the head to collect reward money. That same year his brother Frank surrendered to the Governor of Missouri and the James gang was finished.
The younger of the Dalton brothers had ridden with the James gang but he managed to get away when most of the gang was killed or jailed. The Daltons formed their own gang then and successfully robbed several banks in 1892. Then they tried what no other bank robber had ever done, robbing two banks at the same time in the same town. Their plan to rob two banks in Coffeyville, Kansas ended up with everyone in the gang being killed except Emmett Dalton. Emmett was wounded and served fifteen years in prison.
Bill Doolin was a protégé of the Daltons and he became the next big outlaw in Indian Territory. Then in 1895 he met the same fate as his mentors when he was killed by a shotgun blast from legendary deputy Heck Thomas.
The last of the great train robbers were Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch. Their American crime story came to an end in 1890 when detectives from the Pinkerton Agency were so hot on the gang’s trail that Butch and his partner in crime Harry Longbaugh (aka the Sundance Kid) fled to South America where they continued to rob banks and trains for ten years. Contrary to the deadly end portrayed in the movie, the ultimate fate of the two outlaws is still unknown although reliable reports indicated that they both lived to be old men.
Now you might as well know where I’m going with all these old outlaw tales so here’s the real story:
Oklahoma is the fifth largest cattle producing state in the union and in 2013 cattle theft hit an all time high right here. One thousand head of cattle were reported stolen in the state last year and with cattle prices high and predicted to rise even further the economic impact is enormous.
All seventy-seven counties in Oklahoma have been impacted by thefts and according to Col. Jerry Flowers, Chief Detective of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture’s Food and Forestry division, there is one common denominator in all of these thefts which is the use of methamphetamines by the crooks. Flowers says it is easy to steal cows and easy to sell them for quick cash which these thieves use to buy drugs. The cops do catch some of the thieves as 290 felony charges were filed last year for cattle theft but many more get away. However, history tells us that this situation won’t last for long. Col Flowers and special agents like Bart Perrier of the Southwest Cattlemen’s Association are relentless in their pursuit but they need our help. Unfortunately crime is a part of life so if you spot any suspicious activity call a cop. Its our duty as citizens and residents of this great state and country.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road………….