A rash of agricultural farm thefts around the Sunshine State has growers on alert. According to a Situational Awareness document sent out by the Central Florida Intelligence Exchange (CFIX), the recent chemical and machinery thefts from the farming companies have totaled roughly $100,000. The report states owners of the farm operations believe the suspect(s) are knowledgeable about the chemicals because of the types that were stolen.
The following is a summary of related reported incidents:
- Palm Beach County: On Jan. 15, 2011, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office responded to a burglary in Belle Glade. The unknown suspect(s) cut the chain-link fence to enter the property and used an acetylene torch to cut the locks off of five storage units. The farm chemicals were taken from only two of the units. About 50 gallons of insecticides and fungicides were stolen, as well as a John Deere generator.
- Martin County: On Nov. 9, 2010, a theft of farm pesticides was reported to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office. More than 1,000 gallons of chemicals were stolen with a total value of approximately $20,000. The unknown suspect(s) cut the locks off of the storage shed, emptied out the storage boxes, and stole 14 types of pesticides.
- Hendry County: On Oct. 25, 2010, Hendry County Sheriff’s Office responded to a burglary at a farm in LaBelle. The unknown suspect(s) pried open a single storage shed and emptied out the storage boxes. The stolen chemicals were valued at approximately $58,000. The farm is associated with another farming company located in Manatee County who has reported similar thefts.
- Lee County: On Jan. 23, 2011, Lee County Sheriff’s Office responded to a farm chemical theft in Fort Myers. The unknown suspect(s) broke into a storage unit and stole 18 cases of chemicals and a rifle. Suspect(s) removed the chemicals and left the boxes behind. Tire tracks were also found at the scene.
- Manatee County: Manatee Sheriff’s Office reported three agricultural farm thefts within three days. The first theft occurred on May 23, 2010, in Parrish; unknown suspect(s) cut both the front gate locks and three storage unit locks. The suspect(s) stole large amounts of chemicals and pesticides, as well as a Miller welder, DeWalt drill, and a pressure washer. The total value of the stolen items was $22,549. In addition, the farm owns and operates a second farm in Hendry County.
-The second theft occurred also in Parrish. The unknown suspect(s) cut the chains off of the gate and broke into a fuel/chemical storage unit. The suspect(s) stole eight chemical storage tanks, some of which contained agricultural chemicals. The amount of the stolen items is unknown.
-The third theft occurred in Duette. The unknown suspect(s) gained entry into the farm by cutting the locks off the gate. The suspect(s) removed approximately 1,500 gallons of red-dyed diesel fuel and a Honda centrifugal pump.
Reportedly, all of the thefts occurred after the facilities were closed.
CFIX recommends extended surveillance during the evening hours around farming communities.
If you have any information regarding similar burglaries or have questions or comments, contact CFIX at 407-858-3950 or [email protected].