• Stock theft has long been a problem along the Lesotho–South Africa border. From Moshoeshoe I’s cattle-raiding in the nineteenth century through to the start of the democratic era in Lesotho (1993) and South Africa (1994), the idea that stock theft is both prevalent and an international problem has been generally accepted by one and all. This article traces and problematises the practice of stock theft to show how it has disproportionately impacted the poorest residents of the borderlands. Just as important as the actual practice of theft, however, is the construction of a perpetual ‘stock theft crisis’ on the border that has served the interests of those who are economically better off. The article therefore traces the history of theft, but also of the discourses around theft and thieves in the borderlands. Despite claims that stock theft is seemingly always on the rise, in many cases the sources dispute this. The contradictory and competing ideas about the practice of stock theft have helped to create and maintain the idea of a border in crisis that has historically served the ends of those
    who already have access to economic and political power.