Diesel Thieves Targeting Some Region 8 Farmers

POINSETT COUNTY, AR (KAIT) -- Desperate criminals are taking desperate measures and some are targeting farmers as planting season is underway in Region 8.

Criminals are reportedly siphoning diesel out of rice pumps.

As a result, farmers are left with a huge loss as the price of diesel soars.

"It has gotten worse over the last several years as diesel has gone up," said Todd Bartholomew.

Todd Bartholomew has been farming for nearly 17 years in Poinsett and Cross counties.

A family tradition, he's seen diesel prices soar over the years.

In fact, just a few years ago, he was paying just over a dollar a gallon for diesel.

"This morning we paid $4.12 a gallon  for diesel, so it's becoming a real hot commodity," said Bartholomew.

Such a hot commodity, some farmers are dealing with thieves stealing thousands of dollars of that diesel from rice pumps sitting unattended in their crop rich fields.

"If a person loses 500 gallons that would be roughly 2-thousand dollars. It happens, you hear about it weekly happening here," said Bartholomew.

In fact, Todd was hit last year by thieves.

They got away with 600 gallons of diesel.

"We have been very lucky that that is all we have lost.  The Poinsett County Sheriff's Department puts out a lot of extra patrols this time of year and it saves us a lot of money," said Bartholomew.

Those extra patrols and other pro-active measures are efforts by Poinsett County Officials to make it clear that farm fields  are under watchful, law-enforcing eyes.

"As pumping season gets hot and heavy and there is a lot of diesel out, they really step up patrols in those areas where so many tanks are. We really appreciate them doing that, and it seems to have cut down on the loss," said Bartholomew.

Poinsett County Sheriff, Larry Mills, says his deputies are very diligent when it comes to making patrols, because it's a problem they want to stop before it gets out of control.

He adds that when something doesn't look right, they contact the landowners to ensure things are in fact o-k.