TITUS COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – A Mount Pleasant man was arrested on Tuesday for the theft of his neighbor’s bull five years ago.
Gerry Stewart, 63, is facing charges for theft of livestock.
Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Ranger Bo Fox said the victim initially reported a yearling bull missing to the Titus County Sheriff’s Office in August 2016.
According to the TSCRA, the rancher asked property owners in the area, including Stewart, if they had seen the bull, but no one said they did.
The victim contacted Fox for assistance in April 2020. He believed that he’d seen his bull in the pasture, but when the victim spoke to Stewart, Stewart said the bull was his and born on his property.
This prompted the special ranger to start a joint investigation with the Titus County Sheriff’s Office. They said that they found evidence that proved the bull on Stewart’s property was the victims missing’s missing bull. Additional evidence reportedly showed that Stewart failed to notify the bull’s owner or the TCSO after finding the estray bull on his property as required by Chapter 142 of the Texas Agriculture Code. Instead, he kept the bull for his own monetary gain for 3.5 years, depriving the owner of his bull according to the TSCRA.
Fox explained that in Texas, there are no free-range animals or a finders, keepers rule.
“All cattle are owned,” said Fox. “And when ownership is not known, the law mandates they are reported and turned over to the local sheriff’s department as an estray within five days.”
Fox added that any theft is damaging but the loss of a bull is especially costly.
“A herd bull is one of the most expensive investments for a cattle raiser,” he said. “I’m just glad this one is back with his rightful owner.”