Paul Kitagaki Jr./ pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Rancher Mark Beck holds down a freshly branded 75-day-old calfas he and his hands vaccinate, tag and castrate over 600 cattle at the Steffan Ranch on in Lodi. Cattle theft has risen 22 percent since pre-recession levels and has been helped by a steady rise in cattle prices where a head of cattle can sell for as much as $1,000. Mark Beck is a rancher near Lodi. He has had four steers stolen this year from his ranches in Sacramento, San Joaquin and Calaveras County

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