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Vandalism and littering on the rise on rural properties

Amy Bickel
The Hutchinson News

When most people think about vandalism, littering and shooting, they think of big cities.

But farmers and ranchers in rural areas of the High Plains region, as reported by Kansas Agland, are dealing with those and other problems brought on by trespassers.

Rural areas have their own unique problems with vandals, who, in some cases, destroy crops and pastures.

In a report done in 2007 by Oklahoma State University Extension, studies indicated that 10 to 20 percent of all rural households are victimized by vandalism each year and research shows that vandalism on rural property is increasing.

Just two months ago, sheriff’s officers in Saline County arrested two people in connection with a fire that destroyed $300,000 in equipment and 700 bales of alfalfa hay and a month before that, a criminal trespass investigation revealed a large-scale marijuana operation in Bourbon County.

And a rancher has reported beer bottles and trash being discarded on the Reno County property he works on, as well as a fire he suspects was set by trespassers that burned 60 acres of pasture he rents from the landowner.

Trespassers have also been known to go target shooting on the property, after tearing out “No Trespassing” signs.

Kansas Farm Bureau is proposing to legislators that they pass stronger statues concerning trespassing, arson, theft and vandalism and that they increase the penalties for committing those types of offenses.