With his livelihood at stake, Denis Cates, a 57-year-old farmer, has sent a plea to the government for assistance with stopping thieves from stealing tens of thousands of dollars worth of livestock from his farm year-round.
Cates said for 2020 alone he has lost up to $30,000 in stolen chicken, sheep, goat, pigs and ducks as thieves jump his wall, cut chains and steal the animals.
“The hurtful part about it is, they’re stealing and selling them for pennies on the dollar,” Cates said.
“We, the farmers, can’t get sales. So, if I’m selling a goat for $200 and this guy can go and steal the goat and sell it for $50, why would you buy from me for $200?”
The owner of Cates Farms, a business he has been running for decades and delivers to stores throughout the country, Cates said his most recent theft incident was only a few weeks ago.
“I went to my other farm on Golden Isles Road to feed the pigs and when I got back my godson said to me that he met the chicken coop open. Rhode Island red chickens. They cut the chain, took the chain and the lock and got away with 23 chickens worth $30 each.”
Cates said the thieves have gotten so creative, his security cameras sometimes prove useless as the thieves sometimes place socks on them.
Despite a 10-ft wall, with 10-ft fencing and barbed wire at the top, he said thieves still find their way through or over.
Cates’ farm is filled with animals at every turn.
He said he has over 3,000 with most of them being chickens.
“These people are relentless,” he said.
“Just year before last I had more than 300 ducks. Right now, I have less than 20 ducks left. They just keep stealing them and a duck costs anywhere from 20, to 30, to 40 to 50 dollars depending on the breed and size. But these thieves selling them for five dollars. They’re doing it in the middle of the day now. Like I said, once they see you leave, they come in.”
He said after years of theft, he thinks government should make it legal for farm owners to own licensed firearms to protect their property.
Minister of Immigration Elsworth Johnson said he considers Cates a good friend and “big brother” and assured him that he’s looking into the immigration aspect of his concerns regarding the possibility of undocumented migrants committing the theft.
Cates said his plea is that government step in to assist him and the other farmers nearby with the problem of theft, as the loss is now affecting his children, grandchildren and employees.
“This is how I feed my family and pay my bills,” he said.
“Now, I have grandchildren and I have to assist with them because during this COVID-19 crisis everybody needs a job. It has been so rough after losing so many things. I had to let my two employees go. My godson comes from time to time and renders his assistance. I think the prime minister, along with the minister of national security, the minister of immigration, as well as the commissioner of police should sit down with the farmers so we can come to some resolution as to how to deal with this matter.”