Crime & Courts

One in custody after farm vandalism

CLYDE — Some farmers in Cloud County, where vandals damaged expensive equipment on five farms last week, say the days of trusting people enough to leave keys in their tractors, trucks and combines are over.

Law enforcement officials have arrested one suspect and are searching for a second in the vandalism spree that occurred Thursday night and early Friday on five farms near Clyde. The damage occurred in a four-mile area roughly two miles south of the Cloud-Republic county line.

One of the farmers who reported damage, Rick Moore, said he suspects many farmers will begin pulling keys from their equipment when they aren't working.

"I guess we're a rural community that trusts everybody. Not anymore. Not after this experience," Moore said.

Damage estimates ranged from $500,000 into the millions of dollars but no official figure has been determined.

Moore speculated that keys were still in the two combines, two trucks and two tractors that were damaged. The combines were run into trees, and a tractor hooked to a 40-foot disc smashed part of a field of standing corn and was run into a center-pivot irrigation system.

Moore's tractor was found high-centered on hay bales, still running, after being detached from a grain cart. A semi and trailer were high-centered and still running on a terrace in a field, and a grain truck was found in a ditch.

Jim Reedy said whoever took his tractor, which was hooked to a disc, damaged Adam and Sara Polansky's corn field and Ed and Jan Olson's center pivot. He estimated it would cost at least $100,000 to $140,000 to fix. The Polanskys own the other combine and tractor-trailer rig that were moved and damaged.

"Everybody's still kind of getting insurance companies called," said Mark Gram, whose combine went on a three-quarter-mile journey and whose grain truck was found in a ditch.

County Attorney Rob Walsh said tread on tire tracks led officers to a pickup truck, and then the owner, who was arrested.

"When you have vandalisms, it sometimes takes weeks to solve them. They had somebody in custody pretty much within 24 hours," Walsh said. "We had good information from the public, but also some very good police work."