The case had baffled RCMP officers in the small town of Rosser, Man., for nearly two years.
Someone had stolen a Case IH Steiger tractor from Leo’s Sales and Service just before Christmas in 2010. The 500-horsepower machine, worth roughly $300,000, hadn’t been seen since and most people figured it had been shipped out of province.
Then, a few days ago, police got an anonymous tip.The tractor was on a nearby farm. But where? Not in a barn, a shed or some other building. It had been buried under a pile of manure. So much manure, it took police two long days to dig it out with a backhoe. They finally completed the task Tuesday.
“It stinks,” said Sergeant Line Karpish. “I mean it sat underneath a pile of, um, poop.”
Sgt. Karpish said she had seen people bury a lot of stolen items during her 30-year police career, like guns, drugs and jewellery. But never a tractor. And never in 4 1/2 metres of animal excrement. “You know what the beauty is of police work? It’s never the same,” she said with a laugh. “And the day any cop tells you he’s seen it all, well that one is full of you know what.”
A 24-year-old man and a 22-year old woman, both from Rosser, which is northwest of Winnipeg, have been arrested and released on bail. Charges of theft and possession of stolen property are pending.
When asked why anyone would go to such lengths, Sgt. Karpish demurred and replied: “I don’t have insight to share with you as to what goes on in some of our folk’s head. That’s just the way it is. Suffice it to say, clearly there was a strong indicator they wanted to conceal this big red beast.”
Patrick Grandmont, a sales representative at Leo’s, said the dealership was happy to get the tractor back. “It came in this morning,” he said Tuesday. “It’s in pretty rough shape.… I didn’t want to crawl up in it.”
Most of the windows have been smashed, but otherwise the tractor appears to be useable, he added.
Mr. Grandmont said the dealership has been victimized several times before and is currently missing a baler. Police and insurance officials say theft of farm equipment has been increasing lately, in part because of rising prices for agricultural commodities which has increased demand for heavy equipment, particularly offshore.
Last year, police in Montreal broke up a ring that was stealing cars, trailers and heavy machinery in Canada and shipping the items to the United Arab Emirates and Congo. In Britain, police are contending with a wave of thieves who “steal to order,” pinching particular farm equipment for overseas’ buyers. One farm group in Saskatchewan recently called on the RCMP to create a special team to investigate farm thefts, including poached livestock.
Mr. Grandmont said he was shocked police recovered the Case tractor, which he felt certain had been shipped far away. Now he has to clean it up and sell it as used equipment for a potential buyer. “It’s going to take a lot of loonies to wash it,” he said.