Cattle rustlers are terrorising farmers in parts of Mbita, Homa Bay, before crossing the lake to sell the animals in neighbouring Siaya County.
At least 10 cases were reported in villages in Gembe Central location in August, with some of the stolen animals traced to Rarieda.
The thieves ferry the animals across the lake on boats.
Farmers are so desperate that they are now selling their animals at below-market prices to avoid total losses.
Mr George Otieno said his family lost three bulls worth more than Sh120,000 last month.
The animals were stolen during the day as they were grazing.
At first, he thought the bulls had pursued cows to a neighbouring village and did not bother to go looking for them.
“When I realised that the animals were missing from the field, I took some time before I started looking for them. My initial thought was that they will return on their own,” the farmer said.
When he finally went searching for the animals in adjacent villages, he didn’t find them.
He is not the only farmer who has lost animals.
Gembe Central Chief Teresa Wenwa said others had reported similar cases to her office.
Investigations led to the arrest of two suspects, who were found with a stolen animal at the Aram market in Siaya County on Monday this week.
“We conducted investigations in collaboration with police and arrested two men who could have stolen the animals from my location,” Chief Wenwa said.
Cattle are stolen and transported in Toyota Proboxes to Siaya County, said Suba North Cattle Traders Association chairman Hezron Openda.
Use of boats
Some of them are transported on boats over Lake Victoria, which is a shorter distance to Siaya.
“The criminals, who use boats, travel at night when there is little or no surveillance. We have established that some of the cattle are transported to the Lwanda Kotieno market, where they are sold,” Mr Openda said.
Some of the cattle are slaughtered in local butcheries.
Chief Wenwa said some residents in her location collaborate with suspects to steal livestock.
She questioned why cases of animals being transported in vehicles meant for passengers are not being reported.
“Forcing a bull into a Probox or a boat should raise eyebrows. Ironically, some of the cases are reported to have happened during the day and it raises questions about why no one reported seeing suspicious activities in their neighbourhood,” the chief said.
She plans to hold barazas to encourage members of the public to smoke out suspects.
She said cattle rustling was rampant in the area a few years ago but had ended.
“We will take the same measure we used last time to stop it. It is unfortunate that the vice is rising again,” she said.
Meanwhile, the two men arrested in Siaya are being held at a police station in Rarieda.
Homa Bay has recorded unusual cases of criminals targeting farmers.
At the beginning of this year, unidentified people maimed animals and left them to die.
Authorities could not understand the motive of the practice that led to the deaths of more than 100 animals.
Residents of Ndhiwa decided to take security matters into their own hands and killed a suspect in June.