HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston may be a major metropolitan area, but symbols of its frontier past can be found in large pastures scattered around the city, places where cattle and horses are raised and grazed.
Another part of the past is also still around. Cattle rustlers are targeting livestock, enough that Houston Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the thieves' arrest.
"There's been an uptick in recent months," said Sergeant Jason Alderete with HPD Major Offenders. "It's people looking for some money."
At least five cases have been reported to police involving cattle thefts in southeast Houston.
In one theft on land off MLK Boulevard, more than two dozen cattle were stolen, and one calf died when it was pushed into a fence.
"We think we found some of them but there's no way to prove those were the same cattle reported stolen," Alderete said. "They need to be marked someway so they can be identified, and horses should be microchipped."
Junious Williams is one of the cattle owners who now looks at an empty pasture.
"It's organized crime with people who know this area," he said. "Organized because they know what they're doing. They probably steal a lot of other stuff too."
Williams said five calves were stolen from his property in April when the thefts began.
"They hit me on Friday, another guy the day before and another the day after," he said.
He believes they're not being sold not at cattle sales, but to other buyers. "They fatten them up and they're a few months older, and there's no way to recognize them," he said.
Game cameras caught images of two persons of interest who at the very least were trespassing on private property.
If you have any information, you can make an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS or on their website.