MARIONVILLE, Mo. (AP) A southwest Missouri county that has seen a lot of cattle rustling activity has been struck again.

KSPR-TV ( ) reports the Lawrence County sheriff is investigating the theft of 27 yearlings late last week from a ranch near Marionville.

Fifth-generation rancher Kyle Burk says the stolen steers represent about one-third of his herd. They weigh about 500 pounds and are worth $900 a head.

Sheriff’s deputies said the nighttime crime was a professional job that took several hours. Thieves broke down a fence and carefully picked out the healthiest cattle.

Burk buys and raises calves into cattle, then sells them at stockyards. He says the cattle were insured, but he won’t recover the full value.

Lawrence and other southwestern counties have seen a spate of cattle thefts in recent months.

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