Standing with Missouri law enforcement and agriculture leaders at the State Fair, Gov. Jay Nixon today announced that the Missouri Livestock and Farm Protection Task Force has recovered more than $2.8 million in property stolen in rural areas since 2009.
The task force works with the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Rural Crimes Investigative Unit (RCIU), local sheriffs, farmers, cattlemen and pork producers to target the theft of livestock and farm equipment, as well as other property and drug crimes that affect Missouri's rural communities. The federal government designates 97 of Missouri's 114 counties as rural.
"The cooperation between state and local law enforcement, along with farmers and ranchers is making a real difference in recovering property, preventing livestock and equipment thefts, and making Missouri's rural communities safer and more secure," Gov. Nixon said. "Two years ago, I reconstituted the Livestock and Farm Protection Task Force to track and respond to crime trends in rural communities. This partnership, information sharing and plain hard work have exceeded my very high expectations."
Gov. Nixon said that as of Aug. 15, the Livestock and Farm Protection Task Force and Rural Crimes Investigative Unit have:
* investigated 891 incidents, including 799 working in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies;
* been involved in the arrest of 182 suspects; and
* recovered $2,871,738 in stolen property
Property recoveries have included livestock, tractors, trailers, farm equipment, ATVs and large quantities of fertilizer. An undercover investigation into the theft of John Deere tractors led to the recovery of equipment valued at about $350,000 and arrests across several counties in southwest Missouri. In conjunction with the Livestock and Farm Protection Task Force, the RCIU has held regional rural crime summits around the state, meeting with law enforcement, farmers and business owners to discuss information sharing and protective measures.
"Criminals often don't operate in a single county or region of our state, so it's important that we in law enforcement network, share information and collaborate," said Col. Ron Replogle, superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. "The task force and RCIU are perfect for intelligence sharing and for directing additional investigative resources into an area that might be experiencing a rise in criminal activity."
"Missouri farmers and ranchers have to deal with tough weather conditions, global competition and other challenges, so reducing crime and the fear of the theft of valuable equipment and livestock helps the bottom line," said Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Dr. Jon Hagler. "The Livestock and Farm Protection Task Force has a proven record of recovering equipment, reducing crime and educating rural communities about crime prevention."
Livestock and Farm Protection Task Force members include the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Missouri Sheriffs' Association, the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services, the Missouri Cattlemen's Association, the Missouri Pork Association, the Missouri Farm Bureau, the Missouri Livestock Market Association, the Missouri Bankers' Association, the University of Missouri Extension, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Livestock and Farm Protection Task Force and RCIU encourage tips from the public to the Rural Crime Tip Line (888-484-8477). Tips about rural crime may be made anonymously. Calls are taken 24 hours a day.