Scrappers taking farm equipment set out for spring planting
By Erin Guerra Post-Tribune correspondent April 2, 2013 4:11PM
Updated: May 8, 2013 6:15AM
PORTER COUNTY — Thieves are watching as farmers bring out pricey equipment to prepare for spring planting.
Sgt. Larry LaFlower, public information officer for the Porter County Sheriff’s Department, described this as “scrapping season.” Thieves take the farm equipment, usually worth thousands of dollars even if it looks old enough to be mistaken for scrap, and sell it to metal recycling businesses for the price of its weight in metal.
Thefts reported within the past week include the loss of multiple grain wagons and a $12,000 field finisher, a piece of equipment that looks like a large rake and is towed behind a tractor to smooth a plowed field.
On Monday, police arrested one suspect in a different theft, Lucas Miracle, 23, who lives south of Valparaiso, on a single charge of felony theft. Miracle had receipts showing he sold a grain wagon for $148.75 to Metro Recycling in Valparaiso and a disc, used to tear up the previous year’s plant residue, for $400 to Paul’s Auto Yard in Westville. The wagon has a value of $1,000 and the disc is worth $3,000, according to the theft report filed by the owner, who lives in Valparaiso but stored the equipment on property along County Road 500N in Washington Township.
The owner and a friend found the stolen equipment at the businesses and then followed up on rumors of a man with a white pickup who had been bragging about stealing items in the area and selling them for scrap. They then directed police where to find him.
Meanwhile, copper wire theft has not gone out of season.
Overnight Sunday, someone broke into a barn in the 600 block of north County Road 500W, west of South Haven, and stole coils of approximately 1,000 feet of copper wire while damaging a door and an electrical box. The loss and damages are estimated at $1,200.
Approximately $1,000 worth of copper, this time scrap wire, was reported stolen overnight March 27 from a shed at L&W Auto Salvage, at 4301 E. Evans Ave., east of Valparaiso. The burglar threw a brick through a window to get inside, according to the police report.