LINCOLN COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Thieves are trying to cash in as beef prices climb to record highs.
"It's beginning to be a major problem," said Michael Noe, the manager of the Stanford South Livestock Market.
Before beef prices went sky high, the Bluegrass Livestock Marketing Group says someone would call one of their seven stockyards about once a month, saying their cattle had been stolen. Now they tell us they're taking those calls a few times a week.
William Coleman says someone stole 23 head of cattle worth $40,000 from his farm back in May.
He tells us the cattle rustlers hit while he was in the hospital with his brother, William Otis Coleman, who died after a Lincoln County school bus crash.
We're told cattle dealers don't have to show proof of ownership, so it isn't easy to catch thieves at the stockyard.
A few months ago Lincoln County deputies say they arrested a man after they discovered he was selling $50,000 worth of cattle that were stolen from a farm in Utah.
Noe believes the cattle rustling is out of control.
"It's an epidemic," he said.
Noe tells us farmers should protect their cattle by marking them, locking them in a barn or pasture and by keeping an eye on them as much as possible.