Copper Theft a Problem for Farmers

POINSETT COUNTY, AR (KAIT) -- We are all feeling the crunch of having less cash in our pocket.  As prices go up, criminals are getting more and more savvy in ways to steal.  One of the biggest source of their theft can be from farm fields where pieces of farm equipment containing copper are out in plain sight.

"They're stealing anything they can get their hands on out here," said farmer Marty White.

White said the number of copper thefts he's seen keeps going up.

"We've been hit constantly.  They're stealing copper wire off of our center pivots, they're ripping radiators off of our power units out in the fields," said White.

Every time something is stolen it hurts the farmer, in more ways than one.

"They might get $200 dollars off this pivot and it costs us $2,000 to $5,000 to repair it, plus the down time," said White.

Poinsett County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Holt said copper wiring can be found inside cables on farm equipment.

"Sometimes they'll get in a hurry and leave some of their tools.  When they do we can get finger prints off of it," said Holt.

Their advice for famers victimized by copper theft is not to touch anything.  Contact the sheriff's department or local law enforcement immediately so they can try to catch the person or people responsible for the theft.

"Our law enforcement is doing everything.  They just can't be everywhere in these big open fields," said White.

In Poinsett County there are three deputies who work overnight and cover 750 square miles of land.  Because of this some farmers are taking matters into their own hands installing surveillance equipment on their property to try to catch a thief.  Holt said he encourages farmers to do this because it is helping the sheriff's department solve the crimes.

With farmers being victimized more than once, some are at their breaking points.

"They better watch out.  There are farmers that will take matters into their own hands.  It's made them so mad and it's cost them so much money," said White.

For copper theft offenders they can face a charge of theft with an enhancement charge of theft of scrap metal, which causes the charge to go up by a degree.  They can also be charged with criminal mischief and criminal trespassing.