Thousands of gallons of fuel taken from farmers

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News 12 11pm / Monday, March 3, 2014

Burke County, Ga. (WRDW) --Farmers in Burke County maybe able to sleep a little better now that some suspected diesel fuel thieves are behind bars. Two of the four men are facing weapons charges and others are accused theft by taking and theft by receiving. News 12 talked to one of the victims about the robbery.

"You feel like you've been violated when someone steals from you," Alton Walker told News 12.

Walker is a 10 year farming vet. He says losing hundreds of dollars in diesel fuel hurts, but what's worse is the way it happened.

"They stole my fuel pump and apparently pumped my fuel out of the tractor with my own fuel pump," he said.

Walker says he can smile about it now because the Burke County Sheriff's Office has four suspects in custody.

"At this point we have them in for theft by taking, criminal trespass, possession of fire arms by a convicted felon, and theft by receiving," said Sgt. Dan Lowe.

Lowe says since January calls have been coming in about fuel missing from several farms. The investigation is still open and says more charges could drop, but he wants farmers to make it as hard for thieves as possible.

"Do the best you can and lock them up. Actually not leaving them in the field would be the best thing," Lowe told News 12.

No telling yet how much diesel was taken, but investigators say it could be thousands of gallons and for farmers like Walker who depend on costly fuel--every drop counts.

"The $500 won't really break us, but it does effect us some," he told News 12.

Walker says regardless of what happened he'll be back out farming and hopes those suspected of stealing learned a lesson--because he did.

"We did move our tractors off of this place at night and put them up in another place where they would be safer," he said.

Investigators say it's possible the stolen fuel was sold for money, but it would be hard to retrieve. However, deputies did recover a four wheeler, two car hauling trailers, and a diesel tank from one of the suspect's truck.

Jefferson County could also press charges because farmers where hit there as well and the Burke County Sheriff's office is still looking to talk to two women of interest in the case.

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