Thursday, June 30, 2016

Thieves targeting farm equipment dealerships in Michigan, where valuable goods are easy pickings

Michigan farm-equipment dealers have been hit with a rash of thefts of commercial lawn equipment, farm implements and construction equipment, Rosemary Parker reports for MLive in Grand Rapids. Michigan State Police Det. Sgt. Todd Petersen said said "such dealerships, with their massive lots and sometime lax security, are frequent targets of theft all over the southern tier of counties near the Indiana border. The equipment is valuable, easy to grab and difficult for authorities to trace once it's gone, Petersen said." (John Deere photo: A 2015 John Deere Tractor was stolen from a Three Rivers, Mich. dealership)

Petersen told Parker, "It's unbelievable. Two times we've had people throw bricks through the front window" to steal chainsaws, while thefts occurring on the weekends often are not reported until they were discovered Monday morning. Some of the stolen equipment is pricey, such as the $80,000 custom outfitted skid steer loader stolen from one business.

Brett Wilson, a detective with the Johnson County Kansas Sheriff's Department in Olathe, Kan., said one problem is that "big name manufacturers such as Case and John Deere often have all been keyed the same to allow easier employee access on big farms and construction sites," Parker writes. "But making keys cheap and interchangeable for crew members has targeted vehicles for easy theft." Wilson told her, "If I have a key to a John Deere Gator, I also have a key to other pieces of equipment," meaning someone with just a few key can gain access to equipment of the same manufacturer anywhere, and the recovery rate of stolen goods is low, at just 8 to 10 percent, Wilson said. (Read more)

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