From Hawaii to the Carolina plains, “artichoke absconders, nut nappers, tree thieves, and even cattle rustlers” are stealing commodities “from diesel to mangosteens” at impressive rates, says the Christian Science Monitor. The heists have prompted many to go on the offensive to police wide-open spaces. Bill Yoshimoto of a rural crimes task force in Tulare County, Ca. says farms are “wide-open places for crooks to come. And crooks are going to go where the pickings are easy and where the prices are favorable.”
Several commodities are in demand because their prices are increasing. Almond prices jumped 70 cents a pound this summer, and beef prices remain high. Prices for high-grade lumber continue to climb. Rural backwoods areas have been hit by the copper theft epidemic across the country after prices peaked at $2.80 a pound this summer. The 14-county Agricultural Crime Technology Information and Operations Network in Visalia, Ca., has a collection of motion detectors and low-light cameras that farmers can borrow at no expense to try to catch thieves.