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Agriculture theft and vandalism in Grand Junction

Agriculture Theft in Grand Junction
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 8:43 PM MDT|Updated: Aug. 27, 2021 at 9:00 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - A local ranch in Grand Junction on 24 and G road was the victim of a crime of theft and vandalism.

“We were robbed the night of the big storm,” said ranch irrigator Josh Peterson. “Lots of hay was taken, lots of vandalism in the field. Tore up lots of our pipe. Very expensive.”

They determined it occurred between the hours of 1-5am last Thursday August 19th. It was also determined there was a total loss of almost $10,000 worth of stolen hay and damage from the vandalism of the irrigation piping. The ranch tells us this is also going to affect their current crop harvesting due to the damaged piping not getting proper water to their crops, and having to reseed.

“We have to fix what they broke in this process,” said Melinda Hammer, leaser of the property where the crimes occurred. “The fields are torn up. You can see where they either sunk a tractor or a backhoe so the corrugated lines are all messed up where they tore up the hay field trying to get themselves unstuck.”

They tracked the scattered hay down to 22 & L Rd area. But due to the heavy rainfall at the time, they were unable to track the trail of the backhoe used to haul the hay onto the trailer which likely damaged the pipes.

Due to the amount stolen, they believe the hay is being taken out of state to the west to sell. Especially because their ranch is located right off of I-70 making it easy to transport in the middle of the night. They say the agriculture industry has become very vulnerable; with cattle prices dropping, the drought, & hay prices are on the rise.

“Insurance, we’re not covered on hay bails,” said Hammer. “We don’t get reimbursed for this by the insurance company. So we’re out the time invested, let alone the hay that was made we don’t get paid that from the insurance company. So it’s a devastating blow after the back to back years of drought and raising a good crop like this and it being stolen right out from underneath us.”

The ranchers say this is the third time in the last 6 months their property has seen theft. But the previous 2 times were small and they think they might have been tests. They say they will be putting cameras up now and advise all ranchers in Mesa County to do the same. They also say it’s not just cost that’s the problem. A lot of the material is hard to come by with COVID.

“It’s amazing to come to this when you’re a small town little ranch and feel like you have a common thread with a smaller community and then this happens it’s just devastating really, said Hammer. “It’s so disheartening that someone would do this. And if they’re not caught, that’s the unfortunate part. I’m sure they learned a lot in this and they’ll be striking again.”

The ranchers ask if anyone has any information that could be helpful to catch the criminal, to report it to Grand Junction Police.

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