Thieves Targeting Pivot Irrigation Systems

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Copper thefts are on the rise again in rural Sedgwick County.

The latest target: irrigation systems. Law enforcement and farmers in northwest Sedgwick County are fed up with the thefts.

"We've had one (theft) a year for four years now," said farmer Bruce Seiler.

However, Seiler said he feels relatively lucky.

"We've got neighbors that are suffering more than we are," he said.

The Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office said -- just in northwest Sedgwick County -- there have been six copper thefts from irrigation pivots in the last six weeks.

"They've done a large amount of damage and a lot of loss to the farmers out here in this area," said Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Plummer.

Seiler said it costs about $10,000 to rewire an irrigation pivot. Insurance covers much of that cost, but even that is getting to be a problem.

"There's been some of the insurance companies that's left the market of insuring center pivots and irrigation equipment because of copper vandalism," he said.

Farmers try to keep an eye on their property and equipment.

"But it's a little hard to do when you have enough of them that you can't be at all of them at the same time," Seiler said.

One of the most frustrating parts for farmers and law enforcement is trying to catch the people doing this.

"It's hard to catch people," Plummer said. "There's not a whole lot of people out here to see."

Seiler said neighbors are watching and they have a message for the thieves.

"We're going to get you," he said. "We're going to catch you. We're going to catch you at the pivot and you're going to pay the price."

Plummer said anybody who notices something out of place -- especially people or vehicles in the middle of a field in the middle of the night -- should call 911 right away.

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