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Two are charged after cattle thieves were caught on camera at Salem livestock barn

Video captured images of rustlers at a sale barn in Salem

April 01, 2013|by Mike Landis, KY3 News | mlandis@ky3.com

UPDATE, April 1) SALEM, Mo. -- On Friday, the Dent County Sheriff's Department, with help from the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department and Missouri State Highway Patrol, arrested two suspects for the theft of cattle that occurred at the Salem Livestock Auction in Dent County on Wednesday.  The arrests occurred after the thieves' images were shown on television and internet news broadcasts on Thursday. 

Manu Te'o, 25, of Waynesville and Eric O'Connell, 30, of Iberia are charged with seven felonies each and are jailed in lieu of $50,000 cash-only bonds.  If they're convicted, they could get prison sentences up to four years for each of the seven counts, which include one count of burglary and six counts of theft.

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SALEM, Mo. -- Cattle sale barns and stockyards have been urged by law enforcement officers to keep an eye out for thieves bringing in stolen animals to sell.  Now, the sale barn here found itself the target of rustlers.

Renee Lauderdale and the crew at Salem Livestock Auction are used to seeing trucks and trailers pulling, dropping off and picking up cattle.  Early Tuesday, however, there was a truck making an "unauthorized" pickup.  Thieves broke in and rounded up a small herd inside.

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"They had 14 cows and 6 calves," said manager Renee Lauderdale.  "They brought them all up this alley and through this gate here."

Then the thieves backed a big rig in to load them up.  Investigators say it was an unusual mode, considering most cattle thefts occur using smaller farm trucks and goose neck-style livestock trailers.

For some reason, the rustlers took off after stealing four cows and one calf.  Fortunately for Lauderdale and investigators working the case, the entire crime was caught on camera.

The sale barn installed security cameras just weeks ago after another group of thieves made off with some cattle.

"We are going to have to get these people caught and taken care of because it is going to keep repeating itself like it is right now," Lauderdale said.

The sheriff's department says it was pretty brazen crime.  Deputies have already been working with farmers to keep an eye out for criminals like these.

"They should make sure their cows are marked, branded, and tagged, and keep a good check on them, check them at least once a day," said Det. Michael Latham.

"For us, it is a bad thing, but, for a farmer that loses 20 calves, that is his yearly income or that is paying for his farm payments. That is a bad thing and we need to get it stopped," said Lauderdale.

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