Tillman County sheriff goes high tech to stop hay thieves
TILLMAN COUNTY, Okla_The Tillman County Sheriff's Department has turned to a high-tech tool to help local hay producers find stolen bales.
They're using a GPS device connected to Sheriff Bobby Whittington's smart phone.
Sheriff Whittington said the first time they used it was a couple of weeks ago when it helped them nab a couple of suspected thieves.
Cousins Brandon and Troy Baker, of Grandfield, were arrested and charged with theft.
Sheriff Whittington said each month his office receives several calls from farmers about their hay bales being stolen. So, back in December, he went online and ordered one device for $600.
A couple of weeks ago, it got its first test run in the real world.
Sheriff Whittington knows how much hay bales mean to farmers these days.
"With extreme drought we went through hay Is a premium for our farmers and ranchers," he said.
But they're attractive to thieves too, after hearing a local farmer had about 30 bales stolen over the past couple months, the sheriff figured it was time to plant the device in one of his bales, and wait to see if the thieves struck again.
"I had some confidence that it would work--It did It paid off," Whittington said.
He used his smartphone to catch and arrest the Baker cousins.
Police were able to follow a red dot, which was the GPS device in the hay bale, and stop them on the highway.
Whittington said the men said they were on their way to Grandfield to feed their cattle.
"The driver of the vehicle wondered why I was talking to him. I told him...we need a visit about that hay. He said that's my hay and I said that's not what the GPS receiver is saying and he said oh can I just take It back Instead of going to jail and I said no."
He said with the device, he's now able to help other producers who also been victims of stolen hay.
"Since we've got that technology people better be sure the hay they're taking Is there's"
Sheriff Whittington said he paid for the device out of his budget, and if the need arises, he'll look at buying more, since he's already seen how well it works.