Rural Crimes Spotlighted at "Farm Watch"

GALLIA COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) – People who live and work on a farm have enough challenges without having to deal with thieves.

The latest statistics from the FBI show while there's been a drop in the overall crime rate in the U.S., they've seen a slight increase in property crime in rural areas.

Thursday night law enforcement got together with farm families at Buckeye Hills Career Center near Rio Grande to talk about crime prevention at their fourth annual “Farm Watch.”

Larry Shong is a retired teacher who’s spending his golden years breeding cows on his farm in Bidwell, Ohio.

A few months ago someone broke into his shed and stole 600 dollars worth of items.

"They stole weed eaters, lawnmowers, and grinders," Shong said.

Representatives from the Gallia County Sheriff’s Department and Ohio Homeland Security talked to the crowd Thursday night about what they’re doing to try to prevent these kinds of crimes.

Sheriff Joe Browning says many of the thefts can be connected to scrap yards, which is where thieves often cash in.

A new law went into effect in Ohio in January that requires dealers who buy scrap to use an online database to take pictures of the scrap they purchase and of the person who brings it in.

"If we have a theft from a farm, we can look at that database and see if that item or parts of that item have been turned in," Browning said.

Shong says he and neighbors are doing their part to look out for each other.

"We watch each other's places,” Shong said. “If you don't, you're likely to be the lucky one that ends up with something stolen."

The sheriff also informed the crowd that the Ohio Farm Bureau offers rewards to people who share information on thefts that leads to arrests.

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