Sevier County (WVLT) It's not your ordinary theft.
52 hay bales, weighing 1,700 pounds a piece are missing from a Sevier County farm.
The drought may be to blame, hay is scarce, and it's at a premium.
Volunteer TV's Stephen McLamb has new details of this hay heist.
It was Thanksgiving weekend when Jack McMahan went to check on his 87 bales of hay.
That's when he discovered just 35 in the field.
"Oh, it was a little shock. I knew we hadn't got it. I knew we hadn't moved it. I looked around and said, uh, oh."
He called the Sevier county sheriff's department to file a complaint.
Detective Jeff Manis, with the Sevier Co. Sheriff's Dept. says, "it's the first one I've ever had of this nature."
Alan Bruhin, the Sevier Co. Extension Service Director says, "I anticipated that we were going to see a lot of hay shortages. I had hoped we wouldn't see stealing of hay."
Local cooperative extension service officials say hay is normally up to thirty dollars a bale, that was before this year's drought.
Bruhin says, "you're suddenly looking at eighty to ninety dollars a roll for a thousand pound bale of hay."
At 1,700 pounds, McMahan says these are larger than normal bales which hopefully will help with clues who stole them.
"Right now, we have a lead or two we're pursuing. I feel confident we will solve this case."
But McMahan estimates about a month's supply was stolen.
He must either pay more than $4,000 dollars to replace it or thin his herd and ship them to the market for sale.
"Probably some. We'll try to tough it out. I've got a load of soy hulls coming."
McMahan says they've currently got a $500 dollar reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
He says they are working on getting an additional $500 from a farm agency.
Anyone with any information about this crime is asked to contact the Sevier County Sheriff's Department.
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