Local News

Thieves Attracted to Expensive Farm Equipment

Posted June 4, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Farming brings more money to North Carolina than any other industry. That means expensive equipment and long days. Wayne County deputies recently discovered thousands of dollars worth ofstolenequipment that prompted them to issue a warning to farmers.

A fully equipped tractor, sitting by itself in a field is a very tempting sight to a clever thief. It's not unusual for farmers to leave equipment scattered across their land, but investigators say it makes it far too easy for thieves to operate.

Extension Agent Bob Pleasants says farmers should take precautions.

The assortment of stolen tractors that was found is a good example of hownotto protect them. Together they're worth nearly $30,000, but the Johnston County dealer who lost them to thieves left the key in almost every machine.

Deputies say they were lucky to find the equipment before it was sold. Even though outdoor and farm equipment can be more expensive than a car, there is far less paperwork attached to it. Every car in North Carolina must be registered with the Division of Motor Vehicles, but farm equipment does not. That makes for an easy transition to the black market.

Detective Robert Smith of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department says, since farmers tend not to keep up with serial numbers, stolen equipment is hard to trace.

Detectives say the best way to protect yourself is to mark what's yours, keep a record of it, and ask your neighbor to help watch it. Eight years ago, Wayne County deputies arrested a man they say stole and sold more than $1 million worth of farm equipment.

Reporter/Photographer:Brian Bowman