The thieves pulled up with semi trucks, broke into four vaults, and sped away with spoils worth more than $50,000. This is no bank heist story: These crooks were after wheat. A combination of bad weather, increased demand, and scarcity of land has bumped per-bushel wheat prices up from $3 to $10, and as wheat prices hit a record high, grain theft is becoming a big problem. Right now, an average truckload of wheat grain fetches more than $2,000.
To pawn the stolen grain off, wheat thieves have been resorting to scams, including stealing from one elevator and selling to another. Agriculture organizations are recommending increased security for farmers, who often leave elevators unlocked and keys in their trucks’ ignitions. Tim Bartram of the Oklahoma Wheat Growers says:
‘If these prices stay up as we get into harvest, there will be more opportunities. … It’s not uncommon for a producer to put part of a load on a truck late at night and think about leaving it sit out on the field to take care of in the morning. A lot of these old trucks, if they don’t already have their keys left in them, are pretty easy to start up anyway. … That’s probably not smart for producers to do.’
The wheat stealing follows on 2005-2006’s California almond thefts, in which $1.3 million worth went missing.