FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Goat rustling has become a problem in Fresno County. 70 animals have been reported stolen, and so far about a dozen have been recovered.
A passerby spotted the dead goats under the stop sign at Central and Fowler. County public works crews notified a rendering service, and the animals were removed.
Now, the Sheriff's Department says its too late to link the four to the 59 goats still missing.
"The difficult thing for us from an investigative standpoint is now that the goats are gone and the rendering service, they've likely been mixed in with other animals," said Fresno County Sheriff's spokesman Tony Botti.
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A total of 70 goats have been stolen in nine different incidents. Nine goats were taken from a Kingsburg family's 4-H project a month ago. Four of those were found walking down a road a few days later.
Another five goats were recovered in a raid on a ranch two weeks ago, and one man was arrested. Two other stolen goats were identified in the raid. Another 11 were seized and held for identification. There are still many missing.
"We still have 59 goats outstanding to seven open cases that we have," Botti said.
Like cattle, goats are raised for meat and milk. They're worth between $60 and $500 each. They are a lot easier to rustle than cattle.
"The goat theft has picked up. There's been a real market for it," Botti said. "They are a smaller animal that can be thrown in the backseat of a car."
As of now, it is unclear if the dead goats found at the intersection of Central and Fowler were stolen, or how they died.
The Sheriff's department says it's not uncommon to find dead farm animals dumped on the side of the road. Officials urge anyone with goats to increase security.
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