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  • Last modified 1340 days ago (March 18, 2015)

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Cattle caper: Thief caught, cows brought back home

Eight Charolais cattle from a Lincolnville farm took unauthorized trips last week, and a Eureka man is in Marion County Jail accused of stealing them.

Michael Combs of Lincolnville noticed the cattle were missing when he returned from a trip to Emporia on Thursday. Sheriff’s deputy Mike Ottensmeier took the initial report and estimated the value of the cattle to be $14,880.

Working with authorities in Lyon, Dickinson, and Greenwood counties, Sheriff Robert Craft said it didn’t take long to hone in on a potential suspect: James Woods, 38, of Eureka.

“We’re familiar with him,” Craft said. “Kind of on again, off again. When he’s around we know it.”

Woods was familiar to Combs as well, as he once hired Woods to work on his farm, Combs said.

Combs was at home Wednesday when Woods allegedly was a half mile away loading the cattle.

“They were in a small pen,” Combs said. “He knew exactly where to get around the pen to the load out.”

The cattle may not have been the first things Woods allegedly took that day. Combs said officers told him Woods borrowed a truck from a relative without permission, then allegedly took a livestock trailer in Dickinson County in order to pull off the heist.

Craft declined to confirm those details, but indicated Dickinson County authorities were “working stolen items” and that the truck Woods used wasn’t registered to him.

Woods wasted little time getting rid of the cattle; Lyon County officers confirmed seven of the eight cattle sold at an Emporia livestock auction Wednesday afternoon.

A warrant was issued Friday for Woods, Craft said, about 24 hours after the theft was reported. Sheriff’s deputies in Greenwood County arrested Woods late Friday or early Saturday, and detective Wilma Mueller brought him to the Marion jail Saturday.

Combs drove to Garden City Saturday to pick up four of the cattle. Another remained in Emporia, while the buyer of a sixth returned the cow to Emporia when informed of the theft. Combs did not reclaim the final two.

“We did not have a bit trouble with anybody getting back the ones we wanted to get back,” Combs said. “We would’ve taken them all, but two of them had implants already. We were trying to raise them for cows, and some say they don’t do well after that.”

The cattle appeared unfazed by their travels, Combs said.

“They all came in and started eating right away,” Combs said. “They knew they were back where they were supposed to be. We were just lucky things worked out where we could get them back.”

Last modified March 18, 2015

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