POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - Battery thefts from irrigation pump motors and equipment have been plaguing farmers and vexing law enforcement in Randolph county.
If you ever replaced a battery on your vehicle you know how expensive it can be. Now imagine replacing the cables or tearing your starter out of the car and see how the costs mount up. This is what farmers are facing.
"You're looking at 40 to fifty dollars for the battery and then plus the cables you're looking at up to 80 dollars." Says NAPA parts store owner Jolaine Crawford.
Thieves stealing 4 or 5 power units a night from one farmer can be expensive to the farm and halt the flow of needed irrigation water.
Randolph County Sheriff Gary Tribble says the thefts are from a variety of sources.
"It's either their equipment, tractors or power units where they leave them out there in the fields."
Tribble says this has been a problem for a couple of years.
"Seems to work in phases." he said. "We'll get a couple of reports and then we don't get any."
And the thefts don't seem to be stopping. And it's more than just unhooking a battery, the thieves are cutting cables and doing damage.
At the NAPA dealer in Pocahontas they have a stack of batteries with a sign on them for use on power units. These batteries are a bit cheaper but it's still going to cost a farmer a pretty good chunk of change if it gets stolen figuring in core costs and other parts.
Crawford says many thieves cause serious damage during a hasty theft, for instance a starter being torn off.
"Yeah, you're looking at that could cost them a couple hundred dollars to 250 dollars to replace those parts."
Sheriff Tribble says they had recovered 17 batteries on Tuesday but he couldn't tell me where the batteries were recovered from. He says farmers need to apply personalized markings or numbers to batteries or other high theft target items for identification purposes.
Tribble, "If we get batteries located and we can get them identified to that victim then we can pursue charges on these people responsible. That would be real beneficial to us."
Of course if you see anything suspicious around a farm in Randolph county or any county for that matter, don't hesitate to call local law enforcement. Even the smallest tip can help.