AUSTIN (KXAN) — An investigator with a little-known agency tracked down six championship prize saddles after they were stolen from a 78-year-old man’s barn.
The owner called the Lee County Sheriff’s Office on June 25 to report the saddles, valued at $2,000 each, had been stolen.
The saddles are trophies for winning the Texas Senior Pro Rodeo Association’s Calf Roping Championship. Each of the saddles are engraved with “TSPRA Calf Roping Champion” and the year that it was won. The decorated calf roper earned the most recent saddle in 2016.
A Special Ranger with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association was told Dalton Keith Hammond sold two saddles to a business in Austin. The Austin Police Department also helped search Hammond’s apartment in Austin and found two of the saddles in his car. The Ranger later located the last two saddles, which had been sold to a man in Dripping Springs.
All six of the saddles have been returned to the owner.
Hammond has been charged with Theft, but his charge was upgraded since the victim is over the age of 65. If convicted, Hammond could face up to ten years in prison.
TSCRA says Hammond chose to rob this particular barn in Lee County because he had been broken down nearby several years ago, and noticed the man’s saddles and other belongings when the cowboy helped him.
What is a Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association Special Ranger?
TSCRA has 30 investigators that look into agricultural crimes in both Texas and Oklahoma. Each officer is commissioned through the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, and can conduct investigations in both states.
Beyond criminal investigations into theft and white collar crime, TSCRA investigators travel the state to help reunite owners and livestock after wildfires, floods and hurricanes.
Last year, TSCRA says their 30 investigators looked into 712 cases, and recovered $4.4 million worth of stolen cattle and property.