An accused cattle rustler was in jail awaiting bond Thursday afternoon after the York County Sheriff’s Office says deputies caught him in someone’s pasture this week.
Authorities have charged Dwayne Austin Daves, 44, of York with larceny of livestock after he admitted to stealing 15 cows from a farm near Benfield Road and S.C. 324/MacFarland Road last week, said Trent Faris, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
One of the owners of the cows, Rock Hill builder Mac Leitner, offered a reward of up to $5,000 last week after nine of his Black Angus cattle and six of his white Charolais cattle were missing.
The cows were stolen from about 370 acres of farmland last week and sold for beef about 40 miles away.
The other cattle owner, Alex Haefele, said on Thursday the cows were sold to Brown Packing Co. in Gaffney.
Haefele and Leitner discovered their cows were sold to the private meat packing facility and received video surveillance footage and receipts of the sale with their cows’ ear tags attached.
The company “could not have been more cooperative,” Haefele said, in helping the men track down the person who sold their cattle.
Other farmers in York County also helped tremendously, he said.
To their knowledge, Haefele and Leitner have never had their livestock stolen until last week.
The cattle industry is “pretty trusting,” Haefele said. “There’s no requirement of proof of ownership” when selling a cow.
At Brown Packing, employees keep a cow’s ear tag and attach it to a sales receipt as a method of record keeping, he said.
The surveillance video and an eyewitness account of the man who sold the 15 cows should help the York County solicitor’s office in its case, Haefele said.
The Gaffney packing company told Haefele that his 15 cows were sold during two trips to the facility.
He did not disclose how much money the seller received for the cattle.
Haefele wants other local cattle farmers to contact the Sheriff’s Office or the solicitor’s office if they’ve had livestock stolen in the past, he said.
The reward was offered last week on the condition that Haefele and Leitner could recover their cattle – something impossible now, Haefele said, because the cows have been slaughtered.
Haefele said so many people helped them figure out what happened to their cows they still plan to offer some money to their tipster.
The Sheriff’s Office may press additional charges against Daves, Faris said.
Daves has been previously convicted in York County on charges ranging from burglary and grand larceny in 1987 to criminal domestic violence in 2012, according to State Law Enforcement Division records.
Anna Douglas • 803-329-4068