Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on September 25, 2011
Gasoline theft has been rising across the nation during these dismal economic times, as I’ve previously posted.
But who knew that pig thefts in the Midwest have also escalated?
“Bringing home the bacon” has taken on a whole new meaning.
Last week, KEYC Fox 12 News reported on the theft of 150 pigs, valued at $30,000, from Ryan Bode’s Nicollet County farm — click here to watch news video. This was the third such incident in southern Minnesota in the past month:
South of Lafayette, owner Ryan Bode says the thieves cut the netting on the windows of the shed, entered the barn, then opened the door from the inside.
With locks and an alarm on the door, he thought the barns were secure.
Owner Ryan Bode says, “We’re taking more precautions to get our barns more secure which I think all producers should do. Go through everything and make sure there’s now way to get in. try breaking into your own barn. If you can get in, anyone else can.
Cutting the bird netting was seen in both the other cases. While nothing was stolen from one facility between Courtland and Nicollet, 500 head were taken from another in Kandiyohi County. Leading investigators to ask other producers to inspect their facilities.
Reported by New York Times, Midwest Farmers Are on Alert Against Pig Thieves:
LAFAYETTE, Minn. — Here in pig country, the pigs are vanishing.
This month, 150 pigs — each one weighing more than an average grown man — disappeared from a farm building in Lafayette despite deadbolts on its doors. Farther north near Lake Lillian, 594 snorting, squealing hogs disappeared last month, whisked away in the dark.
And in Iowa, with added cover from the vast stretches of tall cornfields, pigs have been snatched, 20 or 30 at a time, from as many as eight facilities in the last few weeks, said the sheriff of Mitchell County, adding that among other challenges, the missing are difficult to single out.
“They all look alike,” said Curt Younker, the sheriff, who said he had only rarely heard of pig thefts in his decades on the job. “Suddenly we’re plagued with them.”
Some livestock economists pointed to the thefts in this hog-rich region as one more sign of the grim economy, a reflection of record-high prices for hogs this year and the ease of stealing pigs from the large barns that are often far from the farmer’s house.
“This is the hot commodity of the moment, like copper a few years ago and gold,” said Ryan Bode, whose family company, Rebco Pork, discovered that 150 of its pigs were missing on Sept. 16, shortly before they were to be taken to market.
The loss was $30,000, he said, on top of the “ungodly high” price of corn that he had paid to feed those pigs for six months until they were fat enough to be sold. “And after all that, they’re not here,” he said.
From Wall Street Journal, Year’s Swelling Hog Prices Drive Porcine Crime Wave:
Thieves are going hog-wild along the border of Iowa and Minnesota.
About 1,000 pigs have been stolen from at least three counties in past weeks, say authorities, with soaring prices a likely motive.
Farmers are locking their buildings and some wonder if one of their own is behind the crime wave.
The pig rustlers back trucks up to unguarded hog houses that contain thousands of pigs, according to police. They load up a few dozen animals at a time into a trailer and drive off under the cover of night.
Ryan Bode, president of Rebco Pork Co. in Courtland, Minn., said he discovered he was missing about 150 hogs last week during a routine inventory.
“I feel cheated and a little bit violated,” said Mr. Bode, 37 years old, who started the company with his parents in 1994. “We’re the ones doing all the work to get these pigs ready, and then it comes time to sell them and they’re just not here.”
Mr. Bode said he suspected the thieves made three or four sorties, stealing 30 to 40 pigs at a time. The hogs are sequestered in four rooms, about 1,000 in a group, separated according to age and estimated slaughter date. Each week, a new group reaches the market weight of about 275 pounds, making them ripe targets, according to Mr. Bode.
Many Midwest farmers this summer have reaped around $200 for a full-grown hog, the highest price in their careers, said Ronald Plain, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Missouri.
The down economy has fueled theft of all sorts: shoplifting, bank robberies – and even pig heists.
According to the Wall Street Journal, around 1,000 pigs have been stolen from Iowa and Minnesota farms in recent months. Thieves work under the cover of night, supposedly loading hogs into trailers and driving off. They are driving miles down dirt roads and bypassing deadbolts on doors to snatch the plump piglets. In August, 594 pigs were stolen from a single Minnesota farm – a heist that surely took more than one return trip. “Whoever did it is certainly livestock-savvy,” detective Kent Bauman said.
The thefts are spiking because pork prices are at an all-time high thanks to soaring international demand. Farmers are earning around $200 per pig, the highest price in decades, agricultural economics professor Ronald Plain told the Journal. But corn prices are also exorbitant, driving up the cost of feeding pigs. Many farmers have scaled back their operations because of the economy, so stealing fully-grown hogs has become a profitable enterprise for unscrupulous thieves.