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Home / Government / Copper thieves move from construction sites to potato farms

Copper thieves move from construction sites to potato farms

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (AP) — Thieves have been stealing irrigation wire from potato farms in central Wisconsin, endangering one of the state’s bigger cash crops.

Portage County police Sgt. Gary Koehmsteadt said thefts of the copper wire have forced the shutdown of large irrigation rigs that supply water to the potato fields.

The copper may be worth several hundred dollars to robbers, but the thefts can end up costing farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Duane Maatz is with the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers. He said 20 to 40 farms have been hit, including one warehouse that sustained $300,000 in damage.

A Wisconsin Public Radio report says potato crops need an inch of water per week, so irrigation systems are especially vital when there’s little rain.

Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org

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