Three people are in custody for allegedly stealing peanut trailers from local farms. These thefts follow a familiar pattern police are seeing in the area.
This isn't unheard of in the Wiregrass. And with many farmers owning hundreds of acres, an equipment theft like this could go undetected for days.
It's a familiar crime in farming communities- stealing farm equipment. Captain Antonio Gonzalez says the motivation is money.
"Usually it's all stolen for one purpose and one purpose only - and that's scrapping; the cash value that it brings in on scrap metal. We work hand in hand with our scrap entities in reference to things that may be suspicious," Gonzalez says.
Scrap metal dealers know what to look for. A suspicious piece doesn't have the rust you would see on real scrap metal. And it might look a little too intact to be legitimate.
Emfinger VP Samuel Emfinger describes the markings of stolen steel. "When something comes in that's stolen, it'll have all of its parts still on it, it's not as old as legitimate scrap, it hasn't been parted out to keep other machines running."
Those are just a couple of the red flags that led Houston County law enforcement to the arrests of Thomas Tabor, Keith Holland, and Amanda Hall.
Captain Gonzalez says, 'There was a search warrant issued, because descriptively, something matched up. Things started to come together and that information came through the scrap metal industry. The trailer had been broken down. The sheriff's department went in and investigated on the search warrant that we executed and with two of our suspects and getting the information that we needed to make the arrests."
The investigation is ongoing. If you suspect the theft of equipment from your property or someone else's, contact your local law enforcement.
The trailers were stolen from farms around Ashford, Cowarts and Madrid. The Houston County Sheriff's Office tells us they were worth a combined $40,000.00.