Farmers donate own money to sheriff's office to deter farm thefts
BENTON, MO (KFVS) - Scott County farmers hope a donation to the sheriff's office will help combat thefts on their farmlands.
The Scott County Sheriff's Office was given a check for $2,000 on Monday to help combat thieves stealing items from farmers.
The money came from farmers in the county who donated the funds along with $500 from Farm Bureau Insurance.
The sheriff's office plans to use the money to help purchase equipment to catch the thieves who steal from the farmer's land.
The sheriff's office started a new Rural Crimes Unit in June because of all the farm thefts in the county.
The rural crimes investigator says the pivot wire is one of the most common stolen items from a farm.
There have been roughly 20 pinned locations where these thefts have occurred recently and some with multiple thefts.
Patrick Seyer, a farmer in Scott County, says these crimes have got to stop.
"They're stealing pivot wires, tractor weights, power unit irrigation radiators, just anything they can scrap out and sell," Seyer said.
The stolen items cost farms a lot of money to replace.
"Last time, we got hit three times at three different locations for a tune of somewhere between $25,000 to $30,000 worth," Seyer said.
It's not just money out of the farmers' pockets. These thefts can effect production losses for consumers as well.
"If they would so happen to steal our wire when we need to irrigate, the economic loss could be extreme," Seyer said.
The theft of pivot wire could also cause a safety issue and even be deadly.
"If they cut the wire off of a pivot and then a farmer comes back in there and he is working on it and throws the power on, and gets electrocuted or killed from it," Seyer said.
Sheriff's deputies consider this a serious issue that needs to be stopped immediately.
Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter says in the past, they weren't able to commit enough time and personnel for these rural crimes.
Now, there is a rural crimes investigator with the state who has helped out. But Walter feels it's not enough. So that's why he felt it was time to start their own rural crimes unit.
"This money is going to help equip our used highway patrol truck dedicated for our new rural crimes unit," Walter said. "The truck didn't cost anything for the tax payers and it's money we desperately need to equip this."
But it's not just the sheriff's office that is helping deter these crimes. Walter says farmers are acquiring newer technology that helps alert the sheriff's office when a theft is happening.
"They have a lot of equipment out here that alerts us," Walter said. "If they have an intruder that is trying to steal their equipment or hitting their irrigation rigs or their gran bins or even their houses, it's almost instantaneous. Those alarms set off and they contact us."
Walter says so far, those alarms have been effective and some thieves have been caught.
Farmers having to deal with the thefts say the donation is money well spent.
"For them to come in and donate money to help us in the sheriff's office, which in turn, is able to help them," Sheriff Walter said.
Farm Bureau Agent Scott Mainord was on hand at the check presentation. He said when thefts like these occur, it's not always covered to help reimburse the farmer's loss.
"Insurance takes care of accidents," Mainord said. "But these thefts aren't accidents. They could be prevented."
Even if insurance were to help cover some of the costs, it still likely the rates may go up as more claims are made.
Mainord says he is ready to get the thefts under control. He's seen thefts increase over the past couple years in Scott County.
"This rural area, we experience anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000 of thefts per year," Mainord said.
Sheriff Walter warns any would-be thieves that his department will not tolerate farm thefts.
"Whenever a theft is going on, we know about it," Walter said. "It goes to my personal phone. We're able to get there in a few minutes."
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