Man suspected of stealing cattle in Nacogdoches arrested in Brazoria County

Jerome Novak driver's license photo
Jerome Novak driver's license photo
Bart Hughes
Bart Hughes

Nacogdoches Sheriff's officials have made an arrest in last week's cattle rustling case. Investigators say Jerome Heath Novak has been arrested in the cattle theft.

Sheriff Thomas Kerss says 36 head of cattle have been recovered.

Working with investigators from the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers' Association and the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office, the Nacogdoches Sheriff's Office was able to identify Novak, 32, as a suspect. He was arrested at his Brazoria County residence and is being held at that county's jail on two counts of theft.

Earlier reports said someone moved 20 head of cattle, worth $18,000, in the dark of night. The cattle were taken from the Nacogdoches Livestock Exchange on Loop 224 in Nacogdoches. It is believed to have happened between 10 p.m. last Wednesday and 6 a.m. Thursday.

Bart Hughes is feeling good right now. He knows a person suspected of entering his sale barn in the middle of the night to steal his cattle is tonight penned up.

"It's gonna have a happy ending, looks like," Hughes said.

Authorities believe Novak had unloaded over 30 head of cattle at a Navasota holding facility. The cattle met the description of Hughes' herd.

"I think when that guy unloaded those cattle down there they were a little suspicious that things just didn't look just right and got those investigators up there and got something done," Hughes said.

That would be investigators with the Texas and southwest cattle raiser's association.

"Their special department and special rangers, they do a lot every day to take care of the rancher," said Justin Martin, a cattle broker.

"We do have him in custody and have recovered 36 head of cattle that are associated with the theft, as well as a stolen livestock trailer that he used that was taken from Walker County," Nacogdoches County Sheriff Thomas Kerss said.

Now Hughes can settle in to what he's done for 25 years: sell cattle. No doubt the modern day cattle rustling attempt will be the topic at during tomorrow's sale.

"Economy is bad, so they look at it as an easy way to make a living by going and stealing something somebody else worked so hard to have," Martin said. "It's not fair to anybody."

Security measures are taken.

"We actually had two people that were here on the property all night long when it happened," Hughes said.

As cattle arrive they're tagged and descriptions recorded. Hughes says there's just so much that can be done.

"It's hard to keep every gate locked, every minute," Hughes said. "You know there's just so much going in and out."

Thefts have been reported in Panola, Rusk and Houston counties. No doubt, Novak will be asked about those missing cattle too.

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