LAKELAND Polk County deputies have arrested a group men they say are cow thieves, and they fear there could be more.
Six men between the ages of 18 and 22 were arrested, including Trevar Veltrop, Jordan Ferguson, Dalton Pelham, Dakota McClellan, Leroy Hamilton and Bryce Pickle.
Agricultural deputies believe the men worked together to steal at several cows and calves from pastures on West Bella Vista Street near Walker Road, just west of Lakeland. Three of the men are accused of duct taping the calves’ legs together and putting them in a pen with no food or water.
Ernie Haygood, 78, was one of the victims.
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“I’ve been raising cattle for 17, 18 years and never had this problem before,” he said.
In April, he said four of his white calves disappeared from the pasture he rents on West Bella Vista.
“Every day, traveled over there and looked for them,” said Haygood.
An agricultural deputy then informed him that someone stole his yearlings. They were able to track down the cows by heading to Cattleman’s Livestock, where they found surveillance video of the cows being sold. They discovered Dalton Pelham sold all of the cattle which have a combined worth of approximately $4,000, according to the sheriff’s office.
“It’s painful. It’s bad when somebody takes two or three thousand dollars worth of calves. It’s pitiful.” Haygood said. “I think they ought to put them in jail where they couldn’t get out. “
Bay News 9 spoke to Veltrop and Ferguson. They said they were high on Xanax and they regret what they did.
Haygood said he wanted more than an apology.
“I want my money quick,” he said.
Veltrop and Ferguson said they’re hoping to find the cash to repay the victims.