A fifth-generation farm family suffered a “complete, total loss” after thousands of pumpkins were stolen from their south Arkansas fields.
The theft happened between Monday and Thursday last week at Hamilton Farms, in Bradley County, according to Steele Hamilton, a member of the family that operates the farm. Hamilton estimates there were between 2,000 to 4,000 pumpkins spread across an 8-acre field.
Now, only about 300 pumpkins remain, he said.
Hamilton said his father first discovered the loss when pickers came to get the pumpkins on Thursday and reported them missing.
The family had tried and failed to grow pumpkins for two years before this year’s successful crop, Hamilton said.
“You get excited you finally achieved something that you worked hard for, especially three years of that and somebody takes it from you,” he said. “You don’t just break even. You just completely lose.”
At a retail price of $4 per pumpkin, Hamilton estimates the theft cost the farm between $8,000 and $16,000. The thieves likely drove in with no lights under the full moon with a group of pickers, the farmer said, adding that a mudhole in the road would have prevented them from using trailers or large vehicles.
Hamilton said he doesn’t have any guesses as to how many truckloads the thieves would have taken out, though he said his father has loaded 150 pumpkins in a truck at one time.
At that rate, thieves using trucks would have had to haul over a dozen truckloads.
The people who took the pumpkins probably sold them to a warehouse, the farmer said.
At this point, Hamilton said his family doesn’t have any hope of recovering the stolen crops. He said he notified Bradley County Judge Klay McKinney but didn’t talk to law enforcement because it would be difficult to tie any crops found back to the farm.
“What’re you going to tell them?” he said.
Hamilton said the family intends to take measures to better protect their crops but declined to go into specifics.
Source – https://www.arkansasonline.com