Theft of cattle near San Miguel had been on the rise since the beginning of the year. By June, the number of cattle thefts was double the number of the previous year. Ranchers were becoming frustrated and disillusioned with the local police, whom they felt were not trying to solve the cases, and thus the ranchers had even stopped reporting the missing cattle. All cattle should be registered and have documentation, and so the first of several cattle rustlers were arrested when a truck carrying several heads of cattle was stopped and found to have false documentation. Four were arrested then, and a few weeks later, nine more were arrested (details unknown). Since these two arrests, the number of cattle thefts has dropped 10 percent. However, the data is likely off since thefts were unreported.
A positive side effect, apart from the apparent reduction in thefts, is that the ranchers are starting to have more confidence in the local authorities again, and now believe they are trying to help them, and are hoping to continue to work together. The ranchers feel that these arrests have also sent a message to would-be delinquents, showing that their crimes will not go unpunished. There has also been a problem with agricultural equipment being stolen, and this problem remains unsolved. The recent arrests of the cattle rustlers has farmers hopeful that this will bring new leads to the culprits. Once this is resolved, ranchers in San Miguel could then focus their concerns on where they will send their cattle to be slaughtered, if the local slaughterhouses are shut down as promised. (See previous blog post.)