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Union Co., Ill. sheriff’s office investigating hemp theft with an estimated loss of $2M

Updated: Nov. 15, 2019 at 11:52 AM CST
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UNION COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - The sheriff’s office is investigating the theft of 42 acres of hemp.

Deputies say the hemp crop was in a remote area of Union County, east of Dongola.

The grower stated that the entire field of hemp had the tops removed. Deputies say the loss of the crop is estimated to be about $2 million.

The owner of the farm Joshua Lofton spoke out about the incident. “It’s very detrimental to our business,” he said.

He said it was quite a few acres stolen. “We had 300 acres total hemp production this year this was the last field that we were going to get the seed out of,” he said.

Lofton described how the criminals got in and out without being detected. “They used four wheelers and they did all of this at night. We did have a camera on this field,and had it hid but someone spotted that camera,and slid in behind it. They stole our camera,” he said.

He said the thieves won’t get too far with stolen hemp. “It didn’t have flowers and big buds where it’s worth a lot of money,” he said.

Lofton’s offering a reward for information on the crime, and will be increasing security . "We’ve hired a armed guard the facility. He will be here 24/7. We’re putting in a lot of new security systems..” he said.

He has no plans to make his first season of growing hemp his last. “No this is just a learning curve that we’re going to have to suck it up and get past,” Lofton said.

According to the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the theft happened between November 1 and November 14 when it was discovered.

In addition to the theft from the field in rural Dongola, deputies say a theft of hemp from a warehouse facility in the western part of Union County also happened within the last few days.

If you have information regarding the two thefts, you are encouraged to call the Union County Sheriff’s Office at 618-833-5500 or your local law enforcement agency. You can remain anonymous.

In October, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office reported thefts at an industrial hemp farm in the rural Marion area.

One juvenile suspect was caught and taken into custody in connection to that case..

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