PREVIEW: The Great Cattle Heist


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — You don’t think of South Dakota as having much organized crime. But just like with the drug cartels, cattle rustling is big business for thieves in South Dakota. KELOLAND’s Angela Kennecke has been investigating the great cattle heist that started in the wild west and continues today.

When producers in this state first brought this issue to my attention, I didn’t realize just how prevalent it was. For decades, cattle–sometimes an astonishing number of them–go missing and are never found. In many cases they are stolen.

Cattle rustling is big business in the South Dakota for thieves. In tonight’s KELOLAND News Investigation we look at current unsolved cases and we go back all the way to 2017 to see how many cattle have been reported stolen in the state and how infrequently they are recovered. East river farmer Dan Kubal lost 17 heads to theft in July.

Kennecke: What does 17 cattle mean to you?
Kubal: Well it’s an awful lot of dollars for a calf drop. For anybody, it’s a major loss.

“It is remote. You’d have to probably know the area, or driving around the area and scoping it out,” Yankton County Chief Deputy Sheriff Mike Rothschadl said.

In addition to the unsolved cases, we see how there are different rules when it comes to cattle inspections depending on whether the cattle are in western or eastern South Dakota and how that can help rustlers get away with the crime.

You won’t want to miss our investigation into “The Great Cattle Heist” tonight on KELOLAND News at 10 p.m.

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