Rural communities across the country are seeing a rash of thefts on farms. Animals, equipment, fencing, irrigation wire and more are being stolen - and National Insurance Crime Bureau spokesperson Frank Scafidi says it’s a problem that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
This rise in farm thefts is prompting action in some communities. The Hilmar Farm Watch was created in the Central Valley of California in 2011. Similar groups have started in other states as well.
Citing the Fresno County Sherriff’s Office - the Wall Street Journal reported thieves stole metal from agricultural properties valued at 1.1-million dollars last year. That’s about four times what was stolen in 2009. In Texas and Oklahoma - there’s been a spike in cattle rustling - with more than 10-thousand cows and horses reported missing in 2012 - a 40-percent jump from the previous year. Thieves in Vermont have targeted rural sugar-shacks - where maple syrup is boiled down during the spring months. One sugar maker suffered the theft of 160 gallons of syrup in 2012.
Scafidi says the motivation behind these thefts runs a pretty wide range. Sometimes the reason is hard economic times - but sometimes the thieves are looking for money to feed a drug habit.