CATCH THE BUZZ
Stolen hives. You can help. A new program.
More colonies lifted from almond orchard. 168 branded hives were stolen out of the almond orchards out in Fresno Co. around the 1st of March. There’s a reward of $5,000 towards the recovery/conviction of the theft. 24 hives had a branded lid "TALBOTT" that were stolen as well as 144 hives that were branded "TALBOTT" on the lid, box and pallet. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Contact Jan Talbott, 100 S Bradford Street, Kimball, SD 57355 PHONE 605-778-6427.
Unfortunately, the program below wasn’t in place. If you know of the location of these hives, please contact the beekeeper. Stealing hives…how low can you go…
But, maybe this will help in the future. With American recovery rates for stolen farm equipment averaging just 8% and lower for livestock, a Midwest detective aims to raise this figure with an Internet-based crime watch-style program designed for sparsely populated rural regions.
Detective Brett Wilson, a 26-year veteran with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department in northeast Kansas, has established TRACE – Theft Reports of Agricultural and Construction Equipment.
TRACE, with more than 1,000 members, including beekeepers, in 104 Missouri and Kansas counties, is designed to quickly spread the word of suspicious activities and crime in farming and construction areas.
Johnson County is a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, with two thirds of the patrol area in the city and one third rural. The sheriff’s department headquartered in Olathe has 550 officers to patrol the countryside areas of the 4,540 square mile county.
TRACE is designed to electronically fill the role the long-established Neighbourhood Watch carries our in urban areas.
“We send out email anytime there’s a theft from the farm or a construction site,” Wilson says. “It could be cattle, it could be equipment.”
He emails details of the missing items to everybody on the TRACE contact list, working on the basis that the more eyes and ear that are on alert the better.
“Maybe they’ll see stuff at a consignment sale or they’ll see it on Craig’s list when they’re looking for their own equipment and they’ll help a victim get their farm equipment back,” Wilson says.
Once an individual or business has been put on the distribution list they will be able to receive emails from TRACE. Agriculture producers, livestock owners, farm co-operatives, implement dealers, construction businesses and insurance companies can register online.
Anyone can send information about stolen property or suspicious activities to Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org, but people have to be registered to receive TRACE alerts.
Wilson says theft victims and those finding stolen property or seeing suspicious persons still report to their local law enforcement agency. Then, he says, he wants them to send him a report giving details.
Those who register with TRACE are guaranteed their personal information such as telephone numbers, street and email addresses will not be released to anyone outside the sheriff's office or any participating law enforcement agency.
TRACE is also used to email crime prevention tips to rural areas that are mainly hit with property theft because thieves know rural residents are lax on locking doors and vehicles.
The advice includes telling rural residents to record serial numbers of all electronics and farm equipment to help in any recovery efforts – and advice on how to recognize a scam or reconnoitering thieves.
Some farmers have installed electronic alarm systems or motion sensors that can either shine a light or sound an alarm when triggered by intruders. Full-home alarm systems are expensive, but police say a cheaper option is installing $200 hunting cameras on homes and barns. In the event of a theft, the cameras can capture high quality images of the intruders.
Wilson, a detective in the property theft division, says he spends just a few hours a week handling six to 10 calls to TRACE as part of his regular duties which cover the gambit from burglary to auto theft. He also mans displays at rural shows and speaking at livestock association insurance meetings and rural crime summits.
“The programme has no budget,” he says. “It’s cheap. All it costs is a little time during regular duties.”
Because of the fragmented policing system in the U.S., Wilson says he has no way of knowing just how successful TRACE is.
“The program covers 102 counties and each jurisdiction has its own sheriff’s department,” he says. “Crime victims report their losses to their local sheriff as well as any successes in recovering stolen property.”
But Wilson does hear of successes.
Recently, police searching a property found a bobcat with its registration numbers scratched off. Details were put out on TRACE and two counties away a farmer who had his $40,000 bobcat stolen was able to recover it after learning about the recovery through the Internet alert.
In another incident, a man went to the door of a farm house asking for seemingly innocent directions. The suspicious farmer notified TRACE and within hours a deputy sheriff intercepted and arrested the man as he left the scene of a barn break-in.
Wilson says if other police departments interested in introducing a TRACE programm want to contact him he’s happy to help with advice.
Johnson County is part of the American West glorified in music and movies.
The legendary gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok settled for a time in the county, becoming constable of Monticello Township, 28 miles south of Olathe in 1858 The famous Oregon Trail and Santa Fe Trail, both of which started in Missouri, ran in unison until they split in the middle of the county where a sign stating “Oregon” pointed northwest.
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