Antelope County Sheriff Bob Moore put it bluntly: "You can run, but you can’t hide.”
As of Friday afternoon, multiple agencies are still searching for fugitives Rebecca M. (Bree) Robbins and Benjamin D. Johnson, who have arrest warrants for allegedly stealing cattle from Wilbur Rakow of rural Neligh.
Johnson admitted to police that he attempted to load the cattle in May, but he told them that he did not know the cattle did not belong to Robbins.
It's alleged that 34 cattle and 40 calves were stolen and sold to a Columbus couple, with Robbins collecting $16,000 in cash and checks. Moore said both warrants have extradition and are nationwide.
“It doesn’t matter where they are,” Moore said. “They’re coming back to Antelope County."
There is a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Robbins and Johnson.
According to a probable cause affidavit for Johnson, 27 of St. Edward, filed Wednesday in Antelope County, Johnson phoned Moore shortly after his mother was interviewed by Moore and St. Edward Police Chief Monte Olson on Tuesday.
During that conversation, Johnson admitted he tried to help load cattle on May 19. According to a probable cause affidavit filed June 26 against Robbins, an attempt was made 7 1/2 miles east of Highway 14 on 854 Road (Pierce-Neligh Road) to load cattle owned by Rakow.
Moore advised Johnson that he was wanted for questioning and asked for his location. Three times, according to the affidavit, Johnson refused and said, “Nobody’s putting me in jail and separating me from my kids.”
Moore told Johnson he was harboring a fugitive by aiding and abetting Robbins to avoid authorities. Johnson then became upset with Moore, who told him, “Fine, I will have a warrant issued for your arrest.”
Both fugitives are alleged to have committed theft by deception (Class III felony), criminal attempted theft by unlawful taking (Class IV felony) and theft by unlawful taking (Class III felony). The arrest warrant for Robbins - 22 of Lyons and formerly of Antelope County - was filed June 26. Their alleged actions were to have taken place between Feb. 26 and June 24.
The sheriff said on Friday that although officials are not any closer to making an arrest in the cattle theft case than they were earlier this week, he is confident both Robbins and Johnson will be arrested.
“They have chosen the road they are taking and chose to run,” Moore said. “But I’m confident they will be apprehended. There is no doubt with the agencies involved that they are alluding an arrest and have chosen the road of running.”
According to Johnson’s probable cause affidavit, Johnson and Robbins left St. Edward after their case was made public. When speaking with Johnson’s mother in rural St. Edward on Tuesday, she told police Robbins and Johnson left St. Edward in a hurry and left his three children behind.
Johnson’s mother told police that she informed her son that Robbins "was no longer welcome on the place until she gets this mess cleaned up, the cattle theft.”
Police gave Johnson’s mother their phone number and asked to have Johnson call them, which he did later that day. Moore said from their last conversation, Johnson was to call him back; however, Moore said he has not spoken to Johnson since.
Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to contact the Antelope County Sheriff's Department at 402-887-4148.