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COWLEY COUNTY, Kansas – Oil field thefts are on the rise and it’s costing companies big money in Cowley County.
Sgt. Bruce Hafenstein of the Cowley County Sheriff’s Department says thieves are taking their chances on striking gold off brass and copper found in oilfields, sort of.
Randy Cates, President of Cates Supplies says thieves can cash in pieces of brass or copper for $30, but the damage they cause can cost up to $10,000.
“The damage is much more than just the cost of valve and the fittings. The clean up hiring people to go back out and install it all back its just a lot of money,” said Cates. “They’re [Oil Producers] upset I mean, it gets old some of them are getting hit back to back after they fix get hit again. “
Sgt. Hafenstein believes the thieves are stealing to pay for methamphetamine.
“It’s a easy take and an easy sell,” said Sgt. Hafenstein. ”If you have a well that’s pumping two barrels a day; and then you take the pump, take the fittings, and the pumper. He has to redo that, he’s lost four days of production. If it was pumping two barrels to start with it takes him a month just to pay off that he fixed.”
Since oil and salt water pumps are an easy target for these gold diggers, oil producers are now color coding their equipment to track any stolen items back to the owner. The Southern Kansas Producers have created an organization that is raising $5000 in reward money per crime.
Anyone that sees suspicious activity near oil and salt water lots are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 620-442-7777.