Berrien investigators battle theft increase - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Berrien investigators battle theft increase

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

June 25, 2008

Nashville - Berrien County Investigators say they are on the verge of busting up a theft ring that's targeted farm equipment and scrap metals.

The effect of the stolen goods can devastate farmers and cost them time and money.

This street is a storage area for many farmers in Berrien County. But to some, it's a grocery aisle where farm equipment and metals have disappeared for months.

"People work hard to get what they have. Its a shame somebody is driving around here trying to take it from them," says David Keeffe.

He knows from experience. Someone stole most of his scrap metal.

"It was safe for a long time but the right man saw it, or the wrong man I should say. And he took us out."

While it may sound small, its price is not.

"Metal is at an all time high," says Investigator Roger Purvis with the Berrien County Sheriff's Office.  "It can add up in weight and that can add up to a nice price. Several thousands of dollars easily."

The Berrien County Sheriff's office say its a crime they see lot. People steal these metals and expensive farm equipment, making the struggling economy a bit harder for those who are hit.

"These guys loosing their tractors and more expensive equipment, they are in the hole worse off then we are," Keeffe says.  "I'm sure gas prices have something to do with it and people are in a bind but were struggling too."

Now they've had enough and say the theft ring is about to be busted up.

"We were able to set up some video equipment and actually film the suspects driver up to it, step out and get the metals," Purvis says.

Investigators hope to make some arrests by the end of the week and will not stop until there are no more complaints.

Berrien County has teamed up with law enforcers from Echols, Cook, and Lanier Counties where farm equipment theft is a problem too. Together, they are working to track down stolen equipment and tractors and put those who took them behind bars.

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