Stealing Rural America….
The old-school, small town mentality of leaving the door open, invites trouble.
It happens often, and it happens in broad daylight.
In tonight’s special report we travel to Emmons County where, like all of North Dakota, property theft crimes are on the rise.
“I never locked my door for 58 years, now it’s locked,” says Durant Schiermeister.
Durant Schiermeister is an Emmons County farmer who’s had to learn the hard way.
“They took older guns, they knew they weren’t registered, they knew what they were doing,” says Durant.
He has been a target.
“Open the door and all our tools were gone. It was on Christmas Eve,” says Durant.
“somebody ripped us off again,” says Durant.
and over again.
“When I leave something out in a ditch, next morning it’s gone,” says Durant.
Thousands of dollars worth of equipment has been stolen over the years.
He’s not alone.
Property theft is on the rise in North Dakota, and that includes rural North Dakota.
“Things have changed over the last 10-20 years,” says Gary Sanders.
Sheriff Gary Sanders has been patrolling these streets 23 years, and he says gone are the days where people can leave doors unlocked. Not everyone knows your name.
“Trailer thefts, equipment thefts, we’ve had a tractor taken of US highway 83, no idea where that tractor ended up,” says Sanders.
He says all crimes are crimes of opportunity.
Hide you’re stuff, lock your doors, and always always keep your eyes open, because these thefts happen during broad daylight.
“Pick up the phone and report people in the area that don’t belong,” says Sanders.
For Durant, tools, toolboxes, water pumps, you name it, those things can be replaced.
“But when they went into my home and took personal items like a wedding rings my uncle had made so we could afford to get married or 25th wedding anniversary, wasn’t the money so much, but it’s these sentimental things, they take are part of you,” says Durant.
He’s learned to live under lock and key, even has a fake dog house, with no dog, to fend off thieves.
Not the way of life he imagined.
“You really start to think, who’s been in our home, and that’s not really in our nature to live like that in rural America,” says Durant.
Durant now has, a key pad lock to his home, and jokes that only friends, family, and the Schwan Man — know the code.
But again, the sheriff says lock your doors, and secure your stuff. If something can be easily stolen, thieves will get it.