Rural crimes unit helps farmers and authorities stop criminals

By Holly Brantley - email

ORAN, MO (KFVS) - Investigators say catching crooks involved in crimes out in the country is getting easier thanks to new tools for fighting rural crimes. In the old days, crimes involving everything from equipment theft to burglaries often went unreported and could be a monstrous task for authorities to solve.

Now a $3.4 million grant, put in place in August of 2009, is making it easier for farmers and people in rural communities to track down criminals. That grant includes an investigator in southeast Missouri dedicated exclusively to rural crimes.

"I want everyone to know they can contact me," said Sgt. Brenda Cone. She's the investigator. Her job is to network with law enforcement agencies and to educate the public.

"We'll be having a training soon for farmers and law enforcement," said Sgt. Cone.

She works to solve crimes for farmers like Martin Priggel.

"People are just to lazy to work," said Priggel. "That's the main reason for the crime."

Priggel recently discovered his farm to be the target of theft.  Just a few weeks ago, someone took a diesel irrigation power unit from the property.  That's just the most recent incident.

"About a year ago, I had someone stealing gas," said Priggel. "They were able to catch him."

Now, Priggel feels confident authorities will catch the thief this time.  He reported the crime to the Scott County Sheriff's Department who took the case to Sgt. Cone.

"This will really help us," said Priggel.

"I drive a truck," said Sgt. Cone. "I get out and work with farmers everything from livestock theft to equipment theft to burglaries and arson."

By networking with sheriff's departments in the Heartland and around the state, Sgt. Cone is able to solve cases that cross county lines.

"We have crimes in Scott County that may be related to crimes in another county that we may not be aware of," said Sheriff Rick Walter of Scott County.

Sheriff Walter is working with Sgt. Cone on several cases.  He says the relationship is a valuable tool in helping solve the kinds of crimes that target farmers.

"We're on the verge of cracking a big case," said Sheriff Walter. "We want farmers to report everything."

Sheriff Walter says they've used a variety of ways including hidden cameras to catch thieves.

"I hope they catch them this time," Priggel said.

To report a rural crime call the hotline: 888-484-8477 or 573-840-9500.

Reporting Rural Crimes

To contact Sgt. Brenda Cone with the Missouri State Highway Patrol in Southeast Missouri Troop E call: 1-573-840-9500

24/7 Hotline: 888-484-8477 (Tips may be provided anonymously)

Rural Crimes Include:

  • Livestock Theft
  • Equipment Theft
  • Grain Theft
  • Metal Theft
  • Fuel Theft
  • Chemical Theft
  • Timber Theft
  • Animal Cruelty
  • Burglaries
  • Arson
  • Fraud
  • Property Damage

These crimes must be crimes committed in the farming community or to persons or businesses that affect the farming community.

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