(Dyer County, TN) Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box is taking Neighborhood Watch to a new level, with a crime-fighting program designed specifically for farmers.
It's called Farm Watch, and it's aimed at stopping farm equipment thefts and vandalism that costs Dyer County farmers millions of dollars in losses a year.
Shane Burchfield farms 2,000 acres in Dyer County.
"It's almost a brotherhood of sorts. We know each other, we watch each others' ground, we're friends," said Burchfield.
He said farming is risky enough without losing valuable equipment to thieves.
In 2013, someone stole copper wiring off one of his spray pivots, and what frustrated Burchfield was how much damage was done for the little the thieves probably got in return.
"That was a $10,000 loss, for them to recoup maybe a few hundred dollars from a scrap dealer," said Burchfield.
The same type of crimes are happening to other farmers across Dyer County and Northwest Tennessee.
That's the reason he got involved with the Dyer County Farm Watch.
The program is the only one of its kind in Tennessee and ties local farmers, agribusinesses, landowners, government, insurance companies, and law enforcement together.
Farm Watch is the idea of Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Box.
"We're not going to tolerate crime in our county and we're going to go after it at every angle," said Sheriff Box.
Sheriff Box said, like Neighborhood Watch, Farm Watch relies on people looking out for one another and using internet technology to quickly report crimes or suspicious persons to other farmers and deputies.
Sheriff Box said the farmers will be encouraged to use high-tech security systems to cut down on thefts.
"Whether it be alerts on these irrigation systems, or alarm systems on farm shops, or surveillance cameras," said Sheriff Box.
The sheriff said Farm Watch will also help in the efforts to curb the growing problem of meth use in Dyer County.
Box said data compiled by his department shows a large number of farm equipment thefts and vandalism are being committed by people who use methamphetamine.
He said Farm Watch will give farmers more to time to think about crops and less time worrying about thefts.
"Giving them a voice within our Sheriff's Office. And a vested interest in reducing crime in the county," said Sheriff Box.
Membership and participation in Farm Watch is open and free by going to www.dyercountyfarmwatch.com.