Dude, Where's My Cow?

Rare case of cattle rustling in Kane County

Despite our modern and tech-savvy culture, you might be surprised to learn that "cattle rustling"—the act of stealing livestock—is still fairly common in states like Texas and Oklahoma. And this weekend, everyone was shocked by the theft of six bull Holstein calves right here in Illinois.

The calves, valued at $900, were stolen from a farm in unincorporated Kane County late Friday or early Sunday, said owner Robert Burgin. Only one has been found so far.

State and county agricultural officials say cattle rustling is rare in Illinois. This may be the first case in the county in over a decade.

"It's hard to believe in 2008 that people are stealing cattle like it's the 1800s," Burgin told the Kane County Chronicle. "It appalls me that people have the nerve to do that. These are baby calves, not even weaned yet."

Burgin had planned to raise them until they were about 1200 to 1500 pounds, then sell the meat to local stores.

The calves had not been tagged or marked in any way because they were too young.

"There are people who will steal anything of value, but stealing live animals always entails a bit more risk," said Kane County Farm Bureau manager Steve Arnold. "You can't guarantee the animal is going to be cooperative. It's not an inanimate object."

It is likely that at least two people are responsible, as moving calves would require coordination and more work than one thief could handle, according to Burgin.

"I want other people in the area to know this is going on," he said.

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