HOPE (AP) — Cattle ranchers in southwest Arkansas are being warned to watch out for rustlers.

Howard County Chief Deputy Bryan McJunkins said rustlers may not look much different from legitimate ranchers as they move cattle into haulers, though the thieves tend to work at night.

Last week, rustlers stole 145 head from the Yellow Creek Ranch near Fulton in Hempstead County, a haul valued at $150,000. The animals were black Brangus steers, each weighing about 700 pounds.

The cattle had white ear tags numbered from 1 to 300. Investigators found tire tracks from a dual-wheeled vehicle.

The cattle were taken between 3 p.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. Friday.

"Since 2009, numerous cattle thefts have occurred in Hempstead County. There have been at least three different thefts from different cattle owners totaling more than 200 cattle," McJunkins said.

"It is believed that some, if not all, of these thefts are occurring at night, using the corals near where the cattle are kept and large stock trailers and pickup trucks to move the cattle," he said.

McJunkins told the Texarkana Gazette (http://is.gd/gOwcVv) the thieves may appear to be ‘working’ the cattle," as legitimate ranchers do when separating steers from heifers and younger cows from older ones.

In 2009, about 35 head of cattle were stolen from a rancher in Howard County, McJunkins said.

Anyone seeing unusual activity at a ranch should get vehicle descriptions and license plate numbers and call authorities, McJunkins said.


Information from: Texarkana Gazette, http://www.texarkanagazette.com