Suspected cattle thief arrested after TSCRA special ranger investigation
DICKENS, Texas — A Roaring Springs man was indicted and arrested last week on seven second-degree felony theft of livestock charges. The indictments and arrest are the results of an investigation by Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Special Dean Bohannon.
Bohannon initiated the investigation Dec. 5, 2019, after receiving a call from John Hindman, TSCRA’s market inspector at the Floydada Livestock Auction.
TSCRA market inspectors are present at every livestock sale across the state to record information about the cattle passing through the market. That information is compiled into a database that is often used to trace missing and stolen cattle.
On this occasion, Hindman noticed something amiss with a load of cattle brought to the auction in Floydada. He advised Bohannon that Calby Clayton Hill, 46, of Roaring Springs, Texas, had brought 34 head of cattle to the sale, checking in 12 head in his name and 22 head into the name of his boss, a Roaring Springs rancher.
Bohannon and Hindman spoke to the rancher, who confirmed their suspicions.
Bohannon continued the investigation. Relying on TSCRA’s market inspection database and information collected from other Special Rangers, Bohannon identified numerous other livestock auctions where Hill had sold cattle since he began working at the ranch in 2016.
Armed with three years of records, investigators interviewed Hill in December. He eventually confessed to selling or attempting to sell 84 head of cattle stolen from his employer, worth more than $60,000.
Hill was indicted by a Motley County grand jury and arrested Feb. 13, 2019. He was booked into the Dickens County Jail and subsequently released on $110,000 bond for all counts.
Each second-degree felony count of theft of livestock carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, plus fines and restitution. That means Hill could be looking at 140 years in prison if convicted on all seven counts.
Bohannon reminded livestock producers to remain vigilant.
“We often see cases where ranchers are victimized by employees whom they trust to manage their herds,” said Bohannon. “It’s unfortunate, but that is why it’s so important for cattle producers to keep detailed records and closely supervise their employees.”
Bohannon also thanked all of those involved in the investigation, including fellow Special Rangers Jay Foster and Harold Dempsey, the Motley County Sheriff’s Office, Dickens County Sheriff’s Office and Game Warden Matt Cruse. He also thanked Wade Jackson, Motley County district attorney for his relentless prosecution of cattle thieves.
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In response to the severe drought conditions in the West and Great Plains, the Agriculture Department this week announced that plans to help cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock that rely on grazing.