Cattle stolen, East Texan arrested

Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

Released by Carmen Fenton with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association:

FORT WORTH, TX - A western Panola County man was arrested for theft of six head of cattle by Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) Special Ranger Jim Vanover.

Shonery Keith Smith, 39, known as Keith Smith, confessed he had stolen six head of cattle and sold three in his name at the Henderson Livestock Sale on June 22 for a total of $1,302.21. Keith Smith's half brother, 37-year-old Shannon Thompson, sold the remaining three cattle in his name for $1,166.24. All six head were yearlings. Once they received the checks for the cattle, the brothers split the money.

The Panola County Sheriff's office was contacted after a witness saw Keith Smith pulling a cattle trailer in the area of property owned by his grandfather, Touncel Smith Sr. Further investigations revealed that Keith Smith and Thompson had loaded the six yearlings off Touncel Smith Sr.'s property and Keith Smith took them to the sale and checked them in under his and Thompson's name. Touncel Smith Sr.'s yearlings were not branded.

Keith Smith was arrested July 8 by Vanover. He is currently in the Panola County Detention Center.

Thompson will be arrested at a later date.

"One of the most important ways to prevent cattle theft is by branding or marking your cattle, and then registering that brand with the county clerk's office in the county where the livestock resides," Vanover said. "These cattle were not branded, but thanks to the help of the Panola County Sheriff's Department and the Panola County District Attorney's Office we were able to track down the thief and make the arrest quickly."

Current law states that theft of less than 10 head of cattle is classified as a state jail felony and is punishable up to two years in jail. Because of increases in cattle theft across the state, Texas lawmakers increased that penalty to a third degree felony during the 2009 Legislative session. A third degree felony is punishable up to 10 years in jail; however, that law does not take effect until Sept. 1.

TSCRA has 29 special rangers stationed strategically throughout Texas and Oklahoma who have in-depth knowledge of the cattle industry and are trained in all facets of law enforcement. All are commissioned as Special Rangers by the Texas Department of Public Safety and/or the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.