Manitoba RCMP are encouraging farmers to secure their property
By Diego Flammini
Manitoba’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is reminding farmers to ensure their property is locked and secured after thieves targeted a canola grower.
Morden RCMP received a call from a farmer near Kaleida, Man. on Sept. 21 to report that someone stole about 50 tonnes of canola from his property. He estimates the theft took place between Sept. 10 and 18, the RCMP said in a Sept. 22 email.
November canola prices opened Monday at $518.20 per tonne, meaning the thieves made off with almost $26,000 worth of grain.
The nature of operating a farm business makes it possible for thieves to steal grain easily, said Sgt. Paul Manaigre, media relations officer with the RCMP.
“A lot of these farm sites located in southern Manitoba where farmers store their grain are unoccupied, so it could be a number of bins with no residences or people nearby,” he said in the email. “So, depending on how often they frequent their properties, the suspects have time to enter. There will usually be an auger on-site and so they hook up and go.”
At least one industry group has condemned the thefts.
“Keystone Agricultural Producers stands with farmers impacted by theft of their crops and with all of those impacted by rural crime,” the organization told Farms.com in a statement. “We are working with the provincial government to increase legal protections for rural Manitobans and for farm operations. Our hope is that new legislation, combined with increased investment in law enforcement activity in rural Manitoba will ensure that farms are protected from an increase in rural criminal activity.”
This recent theft is the second this year relating to grain.
On June 23, Carman RCMP received word that 700 bushels of grain was stolen from a farm in the rural municipality of Lorne near Cypress River, Man.
Authorities are investigating whether the two incidents are connected.
It’s possible the suspects are familiar with farming and know where to bring grain, Sgt. Manaigre said.
“They probably have some equipment and farm themselves, but just not a large operation, so they’re trying to supplement their own income with everyone doing the work for them,” he said. “So, they’re just picking (the grain) up and taking it to an elevator.”
The RCMP is encouraging farmers to do what they can, including locking bins if possible, to act as a deterrent. Keeping grain samples is a good strategy too.
Authorities are able to compare samples to those taken at the elevator to help solve the crime, Sgt. Manaigre said.
Another possible idea is to purchase grain confetti.
The confetti are marked with an individual number that can help trace grain.
“There’s paper confetti that has a serial number on it that is supposed to be specific to your farm. … You can sprinkle a few handfuls of this confetti when you fill up a grain bin,” Charles Fossay, president of the Manitoba Canola Growers’ Association, told CBC in March 2017 while speaking about thieves who stole $20,000 of canola seed from a farm near Glenboro, Man.
Farms.com has reached out to the RCMP for updates.