A Manitoba farm calculates it lost around $20,000 in a grain theft after a substantial amount of canola disappeared from a bin late Mar. 19.
Carberry RCMP are investigating the theft, which took place in the RM of Glenboro-South Cypress, about 10 kilometres west of Glenboro.
Police report that an unknown number of suspects removed the canola with an auger they, themselves, had transported to the farmyard and then abandoned.
Tara Seel, RCMP media relations officer, said the investigation is focusing on the canola, although police are exploring whether the auger may have also been stolen.
“It doesn’t belong to the property, so we’re assuming that it’s stolen,” she said.
Sara Smith, a family member, posted a message to Facebook warning residents to watch for suspicious activity the following day.
“Needless to say that is a considerable amount of money that someone has stolen from us,” she posted in part. “Please be vigilant for any vehicles driving back roads, etc., that look suspicious as they may be scouting out farmyards to hit.”
RCMP have described the theft as “unusual,” while Seel added that neither she nor local officers she has spoken to have seen cases of grain theft before.
“That’s why it’s so unusual, that and the fact that the auger was brought to the property and left there. That’s unusual in itself, that you bring such a big tool of the trade,” she said.
Kevin Swidnicki, insurance broker with MIG Insurance in Portage la Prairie, said most producers are insured for grain theft, although he has not seen a claim in his eight years with the company. The company does not instruct farmers on minimizing risk of theft, he said.
“Because it’s such a low risk, it’s never really something we go over,” he said. “The only thing we discuss in grain is that you have to insure the value.”
Theft insurance must be provided by private brokers, as the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation insures only against natural crop and production losses.
While unable to disclose exact details of the case, Seel said the investigation is active.
There have been no updates in the case thus far and the RCMP are actively seeking the public’s help in finding the thieves. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Carberry RCMP at 204-834-2905 or contact the Manitoba Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, online at Manitoba Crimestoppers or text “TIPMAN” and their message to 274637.
While rare, southern Manitoba has seen cases of grain theft before, with canola often the target. In 2011, 2,200 bushels of the oilseed worth about $26,400 were stolen near Rathwell, while a Somerset producer lost 5,000 bushels worth $45,000 in 2004, part of a rash of grain thefts in the area at the time.
Securing bins, adding tracking mechanisms such as crop confetti and removing or disabling unloading systems near any bins have been among the common strategies suggested by experts to mitigate the risk of theft.