Gene McAvoy Warns Farmers and Ranchers To Be On Alert
LABELLE, FL. -- Perhaps it is an indication of the hard economic times, or folks looking for some quick cash for Christmas but whatever the reason, growers around SW Florida are reporting a rash of thefts of agricultural chemicals in the past few weeks.
Gene McAvoy, Hendry County Extension Director says several reports of thefts have been received affecting growers between LaBelle and Clewiston in which chemicals valued at over $500,000 have been stolen.
McAvoy says many of these thefts have the appearance of inside information in that thieves seem to know exactly where to go and which storage structures to target. Locks provide little or no defense in that some hefty locks have been cut. In at least one case, thieves removed jugs of chemicals from packing boxes leaving behind the empty boxes in an effort to conceal the theft for some time.
Tips To Prevent Theft:
Growers are advised to keep farm entrances and storage areas locked and maintain surveillance. Lock up all chemicals, they are essentially like cash money for a thief.
Locate chemical storage well away from access roads.
Request that chemicals be delivered on the days you need them and not before.
Return excess chemicals to the chemical distributor. Not having a stockpile of chemicals in your shed you will decrease the opportunity for theft. As thieves have shown they can easily overcome locks - decreasing inventory and having chemicals delivered as needed is probably the best defense.
Consider installing alarms on chemical shed doors or windows.
Buy only from reputable dealers and do not be tempted to buy "cheap" chemicals from unknown sources - you are only supporting a thief and you may be next.
Look out for your neighbor and report suspicious vehicles and activities to the Sheriffs' Office.