Law enforcement officers are on the lookout for thieves who have cost farmers tens of thousands of dollars in equipment damage. The criminals have torn several large crop irrigation systems apart in order to get to copper that can be turned in to recyclers for money.
"The large irrigation systems that you see out in the middle of fields," explains Sedgwick County Sheriff Sergeant Gary hargus. "They're based upon a pivot system and they will pivot in a circle to complete the irrigation cycle."
Since the beginning of the week, three of these systems have been seriously damaged by thieves in Northwest Sedgwick County. The damage done to steal the copper costs way more money than the thieves get when they turn in the scrap metal at a recycle yard.
"They don't care," Hargus said. "They're not suffering the loss from the damage that the farmer or businessman or average citizen does. That air conditioner or irrigation equipment is probably shot and will have to be repleaced."
Hargus says thefts of metal have not slowed down over the last few years. In fact, it continues to be a real problem.
"As the farmers get more active in the fields and spring gets closer, the equipment is going out there," Hargus said. "As the equipment is out there, so is the copper wire and they're in remote places, so it's a prime place for thieves to hit."
Farmers keep an eye out for each other by using a website set up by the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department. C-A-L-I-N stands for construction, agriculture, and livestock information network. Farmers and businesses can easily talk to each other through an Internet message board.
As always, if you have any information, you can call Crimestoppers at 316-267-2111 anonymously.