Copper thieves target farmers in the delta

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PRAIRIE COUNTY, Ark. — Surrounded by the golden crop, all the crooks are seeing is copper.

“They’ll just cut it from here to here,” David Strohl points where the 6 feet of wire was stripped from his property.

The copper in two of Strohl’s electric water pumps were recently stolen.

“They obviously know a little bit about electricity because you got to make sure the wells are off. If they cut into a live wire, we wouldn’t have problems catching them,” he said.

Instead he’s playing catch up with his irrigation system during a critical part of the corn season.

“It’s just like human life, it’s got to have water,” Strohl said.

He’s not alone.

At least 6 pumps all within a mile of his farm were hit, along with several other farms south of Hazen in Prairie County.

“If they steal enough copper to make 100 bucks, it’s going to cost a hard working farmer a thousand dollars plus to get it fixed,” PCSO Chief Deputy Jeremy Watson said.

The sheriff’s office is adding patrols in less populated areas to cut down on copper theft.

“If you are on the gravel and a deputy has real suspicion or probable cause to pull you over and check you out, we’re going to check you out and see who you are,” Chief Deputy Watson said.

The sheriff even posting on Facebook to be prepared to stop.

“We’re not here to violate anybody’s rights, we’re here to catch criminals,” Watson said.

Criminals that Strohl wants caught too.

“You know everybody needs to keep a look out,” he said.

So he and his fellow farmers can go back to harvesting their crops.

The sheriff’s office says they do have two suspects and possibly a third who they believe are involved.
It’s just a matter of catching them.

If you live in the delta and have any equipment that could be stripped of its copper, keep a close eye out and report anything suspicious.

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