ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Fresno County, Calif., is experiencing a rash of goat theft.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Here's how Fresno TV station KFSN ABC30's Cory James reported the story a few days ago.
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CORY JAMES, BYLINE: Goat theft is becoming a growing crime in the Central Valley. Most of the thefts happening in Easton and going...
SHAPIRO: The criminal investigation ratcheted up after Kristy Picquette reported 11 goats stolen last Thursday. She then contacted the media to bring attention to the thefts.
KRISTY PICQUETTE: Originally it wasn't a high priority until, I think, the news outlets started asking them questions like, what are you doing to help all these families find their animals?
CORNISH: All told, more than 60 goats have vanished from farms in the county in the last two months. Police estimate the total value of those animals at $27,000. And now they're taking this crime wave seriously.
TONY BOTTI: The beginning of this week, we really threw a lot of resources at this.
SHAPIRO: That is Fresno County Sheriff's Department spokesman Tony Botti.
BOTTI: Numerous detectives on that team are treating this as a top priority right now. They've scoured the area for surveillance video, which has been few and far between. We just have really come up dry on leads.
SHAPIRO: Spokesman Botti says he can't recall such a widespread goat-related crime wave as this one.
BOTTI: What it tells us is that there's a market for goats right now. What's being taken are the females. Some of these females are even pregnant, so they're getting a two-for-one when they steal these goats. And what we know is that females are sought after for both milk and meat purposes.
CORNISH: Police found four of Kristy Picquette's stolen goats. They were wandering on a road. Now she's determined to find the rest of her herd.
PICQUETTE: Today I plan on going out and driving around and searching within a 5- to 10-mile radius.
CORNISH: Her sons, age 12 and 14, have been raising the goats as a 4-H project.
PICQUETTE: And it's been a lot of hard work and a lot of blood, sweat and tears that my kids have put into these projects. They're not just livestock. Goats are very personable, very lovable. So these goats were a part of our family. You know, we cared for them day-in, day-out. It's just heartbreaking and devastating for a 12- and 14-year-old.
SHAPIRO: Police say owners have provided good descriptions of the missing animals, and they think there may be one person or crew behind the thefts. In the absence of solid leads, the sheriff's department's Tony Botti advises the public in Fresno to stay vigilant and do their best to protect their herds. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.