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Vintage tractor buffs everywhere wonder how low thieves will go

Vintage tractor buffs everywhere wonder how low thieves will go
Will social media help root out the bad apple in this vintage tractor caper?

Dick Kruse, Montgomery County, had a restored tractor stolen about a week ago. It was a D-15, Series II Allis Chalmers. To add insult to injury, they also stole his trailer, drove the tractor on it, and took off! It was stolen from his business location on the north side of Indianapolis.

If you check out our Website regularly, you've probably already seen the story. If you're into tractor collecting and have social media, you've probably also read about it on Facebook, maybe even Twitter.

Social media is not my cup of tea, but if it can help round up whoever stooped so low as to steal a man's tractor, I'm all for it.

Stolen tractor: Here is the Allis-Chalmers D-15 stolen form Dick Kruse recently, on his own trailer! Kruse has the serial number for identification purposes.

Thanks to the Web, Facebook and emails, we've heard from a good number of tractor collectors. Some of the collectors were as irate as Kruse was, or almost. We've heard from collectors as far away as Oregon. All have eyes and ears peeled for anyone with a D-15 to sell, hauling it around on a black 20-foot bumper-pull trailer.

Fortunately ag theft doesn't make the news nightly. It happens – it goes all the way back to the days of the Depression when people stole chickens. That led to the Prairie Farmer chicken marking system, a tattoo device that farmers could use to mark their chickens. It really existed – I have one in my desk.

Hogs have disappeared, cattle too, and gasoline, especially when prices were high. When I was still at home on the farm, someone stole gasoline out of a tractor parked in the middle of the barn lot in the middle of the day, while we were at a different farm.

So it's not a new problem. And it's not the worst problem rural Indiana faces. I received information today about how Indiana leads the nation in busting meth labs. It's good authorities are shutting them down. It's bad if you consider maybe rural Indiana has more meth labs than any other state.

What sticks in my crawl about the tractor theft, though, is that it strikes at the heart of what's good about Indiana agriculture. Restored tractors represent the past, and the best of the 'good old days.' It's fun to drive them and recall the values of an earlier time. I drove several. One of them was a D-15. I ground many a load of dairy cow feed with an old PTO grinder and that D-15, scooping in ear corn by the shovel full.

Perhaps modern innovation, social media, will eventually track down the culprit. Perhaps not. Either way it feels like one more bit of innocence has been pulled out from under rural Hoosiers.

If you have any knowledge about the missing tractor and trailer, contact tbechman@farmprogress.com.

If caught there could be a worse punishment than jail – send the thief or thieves to a meeting of an antique machinery association!

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