The “hay rustling” phenomenon: Part of a new spike in ag-related crime

Posted on January 9, 2013

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These days, farmers and ranchers across the nation are locking up their gold to keep it from a rising theft problem.

And by gold, I mean hay.

In a story covered today by the New York Times, the relentless 2012 drought led to such a hay shortage that ranchers are actually seeing bales disappear from their property.

Rural counties in states like Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Colorado are all seeing the crime spike.

But hay rustling isn’t alone: it’s just one part of a new wave of ag-related crime.

California farmers reported more thefts of grapes, beehives and avocados in 2011 when the harvest was good. Farm machinery became a target for scrap metal thieves. Last year, ranchers in New Mexico grappled with pasture theft.

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Posted in: Crime, Drought