Crime is a little different in the country, where cows can go to jail, too.
Recently, Manatee County Commissioners held an evening workshop in Myakka City, where Sheriff Brad Steube presented an overview on crime.
Two things stuck in my head from that talk.
No. 1, don’t let your bulls and cows get out on the highway.
No. 2, watch out for your neighbor.
While it’s universal that we should have our neighbor’s back, and report anything that looks suspicious, most of us don’t have to worry about cattle running loose. Most of us aren’t ranchers.
It doesn’t become a concern unless we’re out on a highway on a dark night, and a black cow steps in front of the family car. The cow is hard to see, and a collision is bad news for you and the cow.
When Steube made the comment about escaped cattle, a collective giggle ran through the Myakka Community Center.
You could call it a spontaneous expression of self recognition.
Just as law enforcement keeps a rap sheet on human offenders, it keeps a book on cattle owners.
If a deputy spots a cow loose on, let’s say, State Road 64 near Rye Road, Steube said, the deputy can call dispatch and get contact information about the cattle owners in the area.
They look for brands and other markings, and they can herd a cow back to where it came from.
Range deputies also carry pliers and a small bale of barbed wire so that they can make an on-the-spot repair to keep other cattle from getting loose.
But if the cow or bull cannot be identified, the cow is taken to the county jail pasture, near Port Manatee.
There it stays until the owner can be located.
Currently, there are about 14 cows or goats grazing on county grass out near Port Manatee, Steube said.
At some point, following state statute, if the owner can’t be found, and after a notice is published in the newspaper, the animal can be auctioned.
“We have kept some of the bulls and cows well over 120 days,” Steube said. “It becomes expensive.”
Steube also talked about another type of crime unique to rural areas: the theft of diesel.
Back in March, there were several thefts of diesel reported in farming areas in East Manatee.
But the thefts seemed to come to a halt after intensive surveillance by deputies netted an arrest.
That is until Steube recently briefed Myakka residents.
“We found a truck after that meeting with several large containers and they were full of fuel from out there. Apparently the vehicle broke down and the driver walked away from it,” Steube said.
Crime may be different in the country, but like its city cousin, it never sleeps.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.