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A $500 reward is being offered by the Levy County Sheriff's Office for information that leads to an arrest in the theft of copper wire from irrigation pivots on farms in the county.
The sheriff's office has seen an increase in copper wire thefts with Lt. Shawn Hunt, commander of the Ag/Marine Unit, investigating five copper wire thefts from irrigation pivots in March. The thefts have occurred in the Williston and Chiefland areas and most likely are occurring at night time.
The farm thefts are felony offenses with prison time. One example is the five-year sentence handed down in June 2011 for James Blundy Jr., 42, of Williston, who along with two other men stole wiring valued at about $2,000 from a Williston farm. The trio sold the copper and aluminum to Williston Recycling for $200. In addition to the sentence, the three men must also pay restitution for the theft and equipment damage.
A group of farmers said in a letter to Judge David Glant, who sentenced Blundy, that the replacement costs for damaged irrigation equipment can run $35,000 while a sprayer replacement can run $15,000. They added that replacements can take two weeks to obtain, costing valuable time in getting crops irrigated.
Anyone with information can contact Hunt at 352-486-5111 or to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-877-349-8477.
Citizens are encouraged to call the Sheriff's Office and report any suspicious vehicles parked on the side of the road near irrigation pivots or vehicles in the fields at night time.
Maj. Evan Sullivan said the thieves are causing thousands of dollars of damage to the farmers for a minimum monetary return by selling the metal to recyclers.