Ralph Ballard, a 27-year-old with ties to both Calvert and Dallas, Texas, was indicted May 28 in Lee County following an investigation led by the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Rangers. He faces a third-degree felony charge.

Hal Dumas, a special ranger from the association, said it all began in December when a Robertson County rancher contacted him after discovering a cut lock and six missing cows. Dumas immediately reached out to the market inspectors at area livestock markets and was able to match the description of the cows to six Ralph Ballard consigned to the Lexington Auction in Lee County.

Ballard had arrest warrants out of Robertson County for parole violation on a cattle theft conviction and failure to register as a sex offender. Additionally, the truck he had used to deliver the cows was stolen.

Dumas was quick to credit the Robertson County Sherriff’s Office, the Lee County Sherriff’s Office, the Lee County District Attorney’s Office and fellow Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Ranger Kenny Murchison for assisting with the investigation that led to Ballard’s arrest. He said cases like this are a good reminder to brand your cattle and lock your gates — but even so, you still need to monitor your property closely.

“If the victims hadn’t discovered the missing cattle so soon after they were taken, there’s no doubt it would’ve been harder to find them,” Dumas said. “It pays to be aware.”

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