FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Cobblestone Farms has its tractor back after it was stolen along with some power tools in May.
KNWA/FOX24 originally reported that the nonprofit farm had a string of thefts last month. Executive Director Kelton Hays said the farm was left without a $50,000 tractor that helped them fulfill their mission of providing food for people in need in Northwest Arkansas.
“If our operations are interrupted in any way, that can cause a lot of ripple effects and the ultimate ripple effect is less of this fresh produce or less of this nutrient-dense proteins and meats being distributed among local food pantries,” Hays said.
After the story aired, the community and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture stepped in to help. The law enforcement section of the Department of Agriculture has special agents to help investigate agricultural thefts. Chief Billy Black said his agent in Northwest Arkansas, Keith Dedmon, immediately jumped into action after the story and found the tractor behind an abandoned house in Fayetteville.
“He went straight to Fayetteville and within four hours he had tracked the tractor down,” Black said.
Black said Dedmon talked to people in the area and those who saw the tractor after it was stolen and was then able to locate it. Black said it’s nice to see the good that can come out of their work.
“This was one of those times that, hey, we made a difference that’s the feeling we get,” Black said.
Hays said it was a relief when he found out the tractor had been found.
“I looked over and saw a text just said I found it, I broke my rule and got my phone during dinner and was very, very excited,” Hays said.
Hays said since the theft story aired, it has been great to see the law enforcement officers as well as people in the community come together to help the nonprofit.
“On the face of it was a terrible situation, it’s going to end up bettering our organization which is ultimately going to end up bettering the community,” Hays said.
The investigation into who stole the tractor and tools is ongoing. If you want to report an agricultural crime, you can click here. To learn more about the law enforcement section of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and how they help protect the industry, click here.