JACKSON COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Farmers in Jackson County are keeping a close eye on their farm equipment. According to the sheriff, someone is stealing copper.
Investigators say the crooks are not only taking copper, but also aluminum. Right now, copper prices are at three dollars and twenty cents a pound. Aluminum is 60 cents a pound. While the criminals might not be making big bucks, it's putting a burden on those they target.
"I would prefer paying them for what they are going to get out of the wire if they would just leave it alone," said farmer Dan Thomas, who is tired of falling victim to scrap metal theft.
"They just take bolt cutters and cut it. They got part of this one last year. We had to re-do it. Now, we're going to have to re-do it again this year," said Thomas.
"It's spring. everybody has been getting out to work. They're getting stuff put back up, and they're getting hit," said Shannon Webb with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. He says the rise in scrap metal theft has kept deputies busy.
"The last two weeks is when we've had the pivots and irrigation systems hit. I've gotten six confirmed reports right now and possibly one other," said Webb.
Webb attributes the problem to high scrap metal prices, and the economy that has people strapped for cash.
"They're pulling this wire off, burning the plastic, and selling the copper strands, plus the aluminum. So they're getting two for the price of one," said Webb. And it's not just happening in Jackson County. "I've talked to surrounding counties and everyone's had a problem," said Webb.
A problem Thomas says is not only an inconvenience, but a huge setback, with damages stretching a quarter-of-a-mile long.
"It'll probably cost us around 20 to 25-thousand to get it operating. We'll have to do that so we can move it, so we can farm the land. We can't splice it back together because of the water that runs through it," said Thomas.
In the meantime, Thomas just hopes deputies find the culprit. "They need to catch them and get it stopped. They don't get enough out of this wire, when the cut it off, to make any difference, and it really costs us," said Thomas.
Webb has asked nearby scrap yards to be on the look out. He also urges citizens to call the Jackson County Sheriff's Department if they notice any suspicious activity at (870) 523-5842.