Indiana Farm Bureau
Aug. 3, 2011
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Copper wire theft prevention programs launched
A new reward program has been created to protect center pivot irrigation systems from copper wire thefts.
The Griffin Area Protection Program was started by a coalition of local farmers who pooled their money to create the reward program. According to program rules, a $5,000 reward will be paid for information that leads to a felony conviction or a $1,000 for a misdemeanor conviction of the thief.
Irrigation systems have become popular targets for thieves due to recent increases in scrap prices for the copper used in the systems’ wiring. In order to protect these systems, local law enforcement has also increased patrols in the area.
“We want to see if we can have an impact on not only curbing the thefts but also catch the perpetrators involved in them.” said Greg Oeth, Posey County sheriff. “It has been an ongoing process.”
Oeth spoke about the details and importance of the program at a press conference in Mount Vernon, along with Randy Kron, Indiana Farm Bureau vice president; Jim Rink, Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance’s director of farm/crop/commercial/rural; and Bishop Mumford, a farmer who has experienced copper wire theft.
The rewards are limited to information leading to the conviction of criminal mischief, criminal trespass, theft or criminal conversion committed on a system. Posey County Farm Bureau is endorsing the program and administering the reward money, but the fund itself is overseen by a group of five farmers.
“This has had a big impact to the farmers in that local area,” said Kron. “Our ultimate goal is that whoever is stealing this wire ends up in jail.”
Kron added that 18 irrigation systems in the Griffin area have had the wire stripped off of them since August 2010 and the damage is costly to repair. According to Rink, the repairs for one unit can cost up to $10,000 for farmers and the insurance company. Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance has already paid out more than $200,000 in premiums.
Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance is also piloting a program that attaches alarm devices to irrigation systems as a way to deter theft. The alarm sends a message to the farmer and law enforcement if the copper wire is compromised.
The rewards program is limited to irrigation systems located in Montgomery and Wabash townships in Gibson County and Bethel, Harmony and Robb townships in Posey County. Those who would like to know the full program rules can contact the Posey County Farm Bureau, 30 West Main St., Poseyville, Ind. 47633, or 812-874-2241. Anyone with any information about a theft should contact Posey County Detective Thomas Latham at 812-838-1321.
“These irrigation systems are a major part of our safety net,” said Mumford. “That is why we are so concerned and so serious about fixing this problem. We are serious about protecting our equipment and livelihood.”
Public Relations Intern
Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc.
225 S. East St.
Indianapolis, IN 46202