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Grain Thieves Hit Kansas Farms

As Grain Prices Rise in Kansas, so Do Grain Thefts

By Shaoshao Chen
Epoch Times Houston Staff
Jan 16, 2008

CASH CROP: A farmer harvests corn in late 2007 near Morris, Illinois. Rising demand for most grains to make fuel, food, and livestock feed has helped push prices up across the country. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CASH CROP: A farmer harvests corn in late 2007 near Morris, Illinois. Rising demand for most grains to make fuel, food, and livestock feed has helped push prices up across the country. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Wheat farmers across the Midwest are enjoying a rising in prices for their crops, but they have also attracted some unwanted attention.

In Kansas, police are investigating a series of attacks in which nearly half a dozen wheat depositories have been hit by thieves.

As much as 9,000 bushels of raw wheat worth over $50,000 have been reported stolen from four different depositories near the western Kansas town of Syracuse.

According to Terry Bertholf, attorney for insurer Kansas Farmers Service Association, the grain elevators were most likely broken into at night.

Grain elevators and depositories are often unmanned and largely accessible by the public, though the thieves still would have needed prior knowledge of the facilities and equipment. Authorities have yet to name a suspect.

Bertholf said thieves can easily avoid detection, as trucks loaded with grain are a common sight.

"There's nothing different. All they have to do is identify themselves with a name that's recognized [when selling the wheat to unsuspecting clients]. It happens regularly, but this was unusual in the amount and in the short time it occurred," Bertholf said.

Throughout the U.S., high demand, poor harvest, and diversion of supplies for livestock and fuel have caused sharp surges in prices. In the last two years, the price of commodities has spiked, with wheat tripling from $3 to over $10 per bushel. The price of soybeans rose by 50 percent and the cost of corn doubled from last year.

This isn't the first time thieves have targeted high demand commodities. Last year, the rising price of almonds prompted thefts of nearly $1.3 million worth of almonds from California farms. Investigators later traced the stolen shipments overseas.


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