Farmers Fight Back Against Thieves Targeting Fertilizers Used To Make Drugs

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UPDATED: Monday March 25, 2013 6:29 PM

Anhydrous ammonia -- a dangerous, farm fertilizer -- is also a key ingredient to make methamphetamine.

“It scares me to death, even getting around the stuff. I try not to," said farm worker AJ Smith.

And it’s a common target for thieves.

"There’re a few neighbors around here having trouble with the same thing,’ Smith said. “We're all fighting it," he said.

Smith says when the thefts started to pick up in the past year, he decided to do something about it.

He set up a monitoring system guarding a 30,000 gallon tank 24/7 on the rural Ross County farm where he works.

"It’s just a trail camera,” he said. “It sends a text message to your phone in about a minute."

And early Sunday morning, it paid off, capturing the image of two men near the tank.

“I just got out of the shower,” AJ said. “The camera here on the building went off and showed me a picture of a couple of guys, rummaging around the tank here."

Smith says he immediately rushed outside and confronted the two men, who took off, leaving behind a small propane tank in which to load the ammonia.

Smith says he chased them into a nearby field, about a quarter mile away from the tank.
 
“I told them they better hold tight until the sheriff gets here," Smith said.

Deputies arrested 44-year-old Timothy Sines of Waverly and charged him with one count of theft.

He was arraigned Monday morning, and his bond was set at $5,000.

Smith says the worst part is the damage thieves do to the tanks and valves, which can amount to hundreds of dollars in repair costs.

"That's the irritating part,” Smith said.

He's just glad his homemade security system is working, foiling these alleged thieves and the local drug trade.

Sheriff's deputies are still searching for Sines' alleged accomplice.

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