A herd of goats were taken right out of their pens at a Fresno County home Thursday night. It’s the latest case of what Fresno County Sheriff’s Office investigators are calling a rising trend. The young owners in the most recent case pleading with the thieves — return the animals.
For Dillen and TJ Picquette, Belle was their prize winner and nicest goat they owned. She was part of their family and part of the herd of nine stolen from a family friend’s home.
Priced at $500 a head, the crime is a $4,500 loss to the Picquette’s. However, that doesn’t count all the other costs over the last five years.
“They’ve had to purchase these goats, paid breeding fees, paid vet fees,” Kristy Picquette, the boys’ mother, said. She adds the goats are truly irreplaceable, since some were bred through artiificial insemination.
Craig Freitas, whose home the goats were housed in, also lost two goats in the crime. He noticed the missing goats when he went to go milk them Thursday night. After he couldn’t find them, he found part of the pen cut with bolt cutters.
The Picquettes were raising the goats for Kingsburg 4-H. While most raise livestock just for fairs, the brothers were raising them year-round. Eventually, they were going to sell them to other 4-H members to start saving up for college.
“College fund is the biggest thing,” Dillen Picquette said. “Even if we have a scholarship, [the money would] help us with the car [costs].”
Tony Botti, spokesman with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, said this is the 7th case of goat theft between Easton and Caruthers since Jan. 9. In total, there’s been $30,000 in losses.
There are no leads in any of the cases.
“A lot of the times these suspects are using the cover of darkness to pull this off. You can imagine how difficult it is for us to track down who is responsible,” Botti said.
Word of what happened at Freitas’ home is spreading fast on social media. TJ Picquette hopes the community’s help results in a reunion.
“Honestly, if we do find them, it’s probably going to be because of how much help we get from the community,” he said.
Botti has these tips for animal owners:
- Check your fences for holes and other damage regularly.
- Invest in trail cameras, so there can be video evidence of these crimes.
- Stay vigilant, report to authorities when you notice anything amiss.
The Picquette family is offering up a $1,000 reward to help find these thieves. You can contact Kristy Picquette by calling 559-355-9158 for more information.