Metal thief targets irrigation pipes on Cache County farm

Published: Thursday, Oct. 31 2013 2:05 p.m. MDT

The Cache County Sheriff's Office is investigating the theft of several irrigation pipes from a field in Wellsville. They say the theft occurred between Oct. 19 and Oct. 24.

James Young, Deseret News

WELLSVILLE, Cache County — In recent years, metal thieves targeted homes and businesses and stole copper wire and pipe, and bronze statues. They now have a new target: farms.

"It's a troubling trend," Cache County Sheriff’s Lt. Doyle Peck said. "They're not going to get a lot of money out of it, compared to what value the pipe has to the landowner.”

Wade Campbell raises cows in Wellsville on land that was farmed by his grandfather. Creek water is a life source for his cows, but he can't water their pasture without irrigation pipes and sprinklers.

Sometime between Oct. 19 and Oct. 24, a thief stole 35 aluminum irrigation pipes from his locked pasture. They measure 3 inches in diameter, 30 to 40 feet long, with sprinkler heads attached.

"It's not something I have money to repair," Campbell said. "Another thing is, I know I don't have it insured."

The pipes were stolen from a rack near a back gate that was locked. The aluminum pipe and brass sprinklers add up to very little cash for the thief, but they're worth $4,000 to Campbell.

"You got people that come and just pick and choose, and steal and vandalize," Campbell said. "A lot of the older people that I talked to around here that are family members are upset."

Whoever hauled the pipes off his property had a pretty big job on their hands. The thief would have had to lift each one of them over a 4-foot-high fence. Campbell said it would be a 90-minute job for one person.

"You've got to have a 24-foot flatbed trailer to haul it. So it's not just something you can drive off in your trunk or anything,” he said.

"A theft like this, that affects everyone's trust, erodes that down-home feeling, which is what everyone wants in a farming community," Peck said.

Cache County sheriff's investigators have evidence from the scene and are working with recyclers, but they're asking for help from the public to track down the thief. Anyone with information on this case is asked to call 435-755-1000.

The Farm Bureau Insurance has put up a $1,000 reward for any information leading to a conviction of the thief.

Email: jboal@deseretnews.com

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