There are cattle rustlers about in the Rio Grande Valley.
According to law enforcement, two show heifers worth at least $10,000 apiece disappeared from a pasture in north Mission last week and appear to have been stolen.
The heifers belong to Amy Ingram and her daughters, who noticed they were missing last Wednesday. Ingram says she and her daughters went out that day to feed their cows on their property near Mile 7-1/2 on Brushline Road, but Sunflower and Luna, the show heifers, never showed up.
“Of course my girls and I went and we were checking the fence and Elicia, who is the oldest daughter, she actually saw that the fence was cut,” Ingram said. “There were three barbed wires that were cut.”
Elicia Gallegos, a freshman involved with Mission Veterans FFA, has been showing animals since sixth grade.
Gallegos had planned on showing Sunflower and Luna at the Mercedes and San Antonio stock shows, spending hours each day feeding and walking and caring for the calves.
“You have to brush them every day, you have to put water on them every day, make sure their hair’s groomed every day, make sure there’s no mud, their hooves have to be trimmed and everything. It’s a lot of work to put into having heifers,” she said.
Finding them missing was tragic, Gallegos said.
“It was heartbreaking,” she said. “Especially because the mom of the little baby, she was walking all the way to the back to find her baby, and she was mooing and crying. It was really devastating.”
Ingram contacted the police and began searching for the cows on her own.
“My husband and I did go to flea markets, cause they tend to sell cattle and goats and ponies and everything,” she said. “So we went to the flea markets, but we had no luck there.”
There was one false alarm. At one point Texas Southwest Cattle Raisers Association Special Ranger Joe Aguilar found some similar looking animals for sale, but they turned out to just be lookalikes.
Aguilar, who is investigating the incident, says there aren’t a whole lot of leads in the case so far. He says show heifers aren’t often stolen, and whoever has the animals likely doesn’t even realize how much they’re worth.
“Minimum, those things are probably worth a minimum of $10,000 each, and I think I’m really low-balling it to be honest with you,” he said. “To us, they’re show heifers because we know they’re going to the show — the amount of money, time and everything that goes into it is what makes it a show heifer. To some people that steal these animals, I guarantee they have no idea what the value is on them.”
The missing heifers are white Charolais crosses with no brands or marks. One of the calves had a yellow ear tag with a number three on it when it went missing.
Special Ranger Aguilar says tips on the cows’ location can be directed to him at (956) 513-0297.