To the guy that stole the combine…


When I woke up this morning and checked Facebook I happened to see several people had shared a news story about a combine in rural Kansas being stolen last night. My first thought was  “that’s crazy, who steals a combine?” But after seeing it more and more on my feed today I couldn’t believe some of the responses and wanted to share my opinion.

First of all…. Really? So I don’t know what thoughts or events all led up to you deciding to steal something and go on a joy ride, but if I had to guess I would say that some drugs or alcohol were involved. So whatever was going on in your brain obviously told you it would be a great idea to choose a combine to steal. I guess you weren’t going for the inconspicuous look. Speed must not have been a factor either seeing as how I’m guessing you didn’t get over 15 mph. The only thing I can think of is that maybe you thought you were in a tank and invincible.

The news said that callers reported the combine “swerving all over the road”. Ummm…. First can we say thank you God that nobody was killed! Do you know how easy it would have been to run over a car and kill whoever may have been inside? Apparently you didn’t know how to operate that piece of machinery because you did in fact hit a vehicle. You struck a pickup hard enough to rip the 8 row corn header off of the combine. Wow. But you didn’t stop there, because you weren’t going down without a fight. You continued on your path of destruction destroying power poles, lines, and two police cruisers. They actually had to fire 18 rounds into the combine to disable it and arrest you.


But hears the crazy thing. There have actually been some people blaming the farmer. Forget the fact that he just lost an around a quarter million dollar machine, but the combine you ruined was how he made most of his livelihood. He is going to now have to deal with insurance and try to finish cutting his crop. Hopefully he has good neighbors that will step in and lend a hand. I don’t know if you know this or not, but harvest is an extremely time sensitive and stressful time for farmers. When it’s time to harvest the crop that’s exactly what you do. You only have so long before it starts deteriorating and that’s a very big deal when that’s your yearly salary.


The people commenting on the news stories are saying things like “stupid farmer” and “doesn’t deserve insurance to cover it”. I have seen several comments saying that he should have taken the combine home. First of all, we don’t know how far his field was from his house. Maybe it was 1 mile and maybe it was 50 miles. At a top speed of 15 mph it could take him up to 4 hours to get home. Maybe even longer. Harvest means late nights and early mornings and sometimes 5 hours could be all the sleep a farmer gets if even that. Then counting the trip back to the field he would be spending a good majority of his day roading the machine. And don’t forget to take into account that all that time is time away from his family trying to make a living and help feed the world.

You don’t hear about combines getting stolen often so I doubt his last thought before parking the combine and going home exhausted before starting another long day wasn’t “I better pull the keys and lock up”. Farm machinery being stolen for joy rides is just pretty rare and I would pay money to bet that farmer wasn’t thinking anything like that would ever happen. You may say “well we never expect things like that to happen so he should have anyway”. Good point, and for vehicles I would say yeah it probably should have been locked. But vehicles are stolen everyday and that’s kind of like comparing apples and oranges.

The whole point of this is to say stop and think before you go around slamming the farmer. He is doing a pretty thankless job and to be called the names like he is on top of just losing such an expensive and vital part to his farm, is just ridiculous. How about we stop ridiculing him and just be thankful no one got hurt and the guy that stole it is behind bars.DdkUedQysMb5ROeqfoKoOjl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBVvK0kTmF0xjctABnaLJIm9

A lot of people seem to think that their food just magically appears in grocery stores. They don’t know the blood, sweat, and tears that go into getting it there. It all starts on the farm and no farmers equal no food. People might be tired of hearing that, but it’s the truth and everyday there is something new that they have to try and defend themselves against. But still they spend the hours away from home and their families because they know somebody has to do it and it’s their passion. To all the farmers out there, my husband included, I say thank you. Thank you for continuing to do what you do even through the hard times, low crop prices, and uncooperative weather. Thank you.farmer


  1. I have to agree 100% if it wasn’t for all the farmers and truck drivers we would not have food on the table or even in our house’s.. I can’t speak for everybody but I’m glad nobody got hurt and very glad the idiot that did this is sitting in jail right now. To steal a farmers combine was not the smartest thing to do.. I know if I was the farmer that owned the combine I would be extremely ticked (nicest way to put it)’s not the farmers fault some moron did this. My bets are the guy that did this was completely drunk and high.. I hope he sits in jail for a long time for this. And I hope this farmer can get his crops harvested before they go bad and he looses half a field or even a whole entire field.. God bless the farmer’s..

    1. Oh my goodness that was such a heart touching, very well said. Perfect words and so true. Amazing story and God bless you. Come home safe tonite. Safety first and be careful out there. That little bastard should pay from his own pocket cause yes what he/she did was ridiculous, rude and so mean. Machinery like this is not paid for in a lifetime. We farmers work just as hard as another human.thanks for the great words about a farmer you share.

    2. As a farmer’s wife in upstate NY, I know the hard life that goes into this job. This time of year, I see my husband long enough to give him dinner and say goodnight. At 63, he is still gone by 5:30 a.m and often isn’t home until well after dark. HIS combine is his baby and one of his most vital tools. It doesn’t matter if the keys were in it or not, stealing is still WRONG and still a CRIME. Yes, screw the farmer, go hungry.

  2. I absolutely love this! My husband isn’t a farmer, he works at the Grain Elevator ADM Grain. He is currently going on night 4 of working 11-12 hour shifts from 9pm to 8 or 9 am. I live in a “farm” town. Lewis,Ks it’s a very small town, but I completely agree with every word you have said in this! There is such much time spent away from families of the farming life but I wouldn’t trade what my husband does for anything, except maybe the long hours on nights.. but I get through it and so do our 4 kids, ages from 6 to an almost 1year. He will be on nights from maybe 2 weeks to 1 or 2 months for corn harvest. I’ve learned alot about harvest from being with him I grew up on a farm but never went through harvest really or at least I didn’t pay much attention lol but THANK YOU for this article and to the FARMERS out there who do this tough job!

  3. When I was on harvest, it was a strict rule that keys be left in the ignitions.
    We moved on to our bunk trailers and/or motel rooms.
    The combines stayed behind.
    One really creepy thing about wheat country, is the occurrence of DRY thunderstorms.
    Yes, dry and not accompanied by rain!
    Lightning can start a fire in a wheat field and the crop or stubble will ignite and burn with the speed a ferocity of jellied gasoline!

    Good neighbors are willing to save those combines, regardless of whom they belonged to, because they knew the field they go to next, could be THEIRS!
    I’ve been told farmers were willing to run endangered combines aground, even in their own spring crops, if fallow ground was not handy, in order to save them from being burned!
    That’s what farmers do for each other.

    Yes, it makes sense to leave keys in place.

    1. Totally agree.

      I’ve never taken the keys out of a combine, tractor, etc. I’ve saved a swather and a tractor because my cousins left the keys in it and I got to a lightening fire before them. And I’ve used a neighbors tractor and disk to make a fire line because theirs was closer than mine and they had left the keys in it ….

      I’m sure every farmer has stories they can tell like that. We leave them there for a reason …

  4. I am from Ellinwood and assure you that he has great neighbors and family that will finish harvest. Thank you for standing up for the farmer, I keep hearing the guy that stole the combine had mental illness and not taking his medicine. Pure and simple that is a choice. He is a grown man and should be required to pay for damages, maybe he should have to work for that farmer and learn just how much work it takes.

    1. Work his butt off for life, because he has to replace the combine, corn header, police cars and civilian vehicles, as well as public utility installations!

      THEN he can be executed for sex crimes.

  5. I am on a volunteer fire department a month ago we responded to a hay bale fire thank goodness the farmer left the keys in the tractor we were able to remove the 3 burning bales away from the the stake of about 100

  6. Giving not excuses but was told he was a schitsophrenic sorry prob spelled wrong was in Hutchinson had been without his medication was denied from a doctor to fill then headed home his car broke down so if this is true he had this medical condition I’m sure he was all over the place very sad glad no one was killed

  7. My husband farms with his father and brother. We all live about 6-12 miles apart and up to 20 miles from a given piece of ground. The individual operating a farm vehicle/piece of machinery one day isn’t necessarily the person who will operate it the next day. Juggling tasks is hard enough without worrying about getting keys from one person to another (at midnight).

  8. It truly amazes me the number of people that have an opinion on everything but no actually knowledge to form that opinion. Just be cause you can talk or type does not mean that you should. Thank you to all the farmers!!!

  9. I agree 100% with you. I grew up on a farm and the gas cost more to move the vehicle than leaving it in the field. Keys were alway left in the equipment so if it needed to moved in a hurry the keys were there.
    Alway thank a farmer.

  10. Lot more dangerous to drive the combine home at night in the dark than to just leave it in the field. People saying stupid farmer for leaving it in the field would be the same ones saying “stupid farmer hogging the road going 20 mph in the middle of the night”

  11. I’m glad no one got hurt but please don’t forget the truck driver that brings the food and grain that the farmers produce to the stores so it can be sold we also have a thank less job

  12. You are so Right! don’t bite the hand that feeds you so to speak. but roading equipment also means diesel and that’s expensive stuff. so the option of leaving it in the field is sometimes necessary. Bash the thief make these people responsible for THEIR ACTIONS!!!!!!! Guns don’t kill people do, cars don’t drive drunk people do, SO STOP BASHING THE INNOCENT AND PUT BLAME WHERE IT GOES.

  13. Well said never I repeat never do we take the keys out of a piece of equipment..just unheard of people show their true intelligence by showing how ignorant and uneducated they are! Thanks for posting

  14. There is a HUGE difference between saying that locking up your tractor is a pretty simple precaution that probably would have prevented this crime and telling the farmer that it’s his FAULT for not doing so and letting some stupid idiot commit a completely senseless act of vandalism. I don’t think anyone can really wrap their head around what could possibly have possessed the thief to do such a thing, so how can we justify blaming the farmer for not anticipating it?

    Yeah, if you ask me I would probably say that the farmer made a mistake if he left his keys accessible. But everyone makes mistakes, and this one just isn’t big enough to say that he “deserved” getting his tractor stolen and trashed.

    So I hope he has an easy time with insurance. I hope he has good neighbors who can step up and help him out. And I hope he has a good buffer between him and the online idiots who have nothing better to do than throw blame around, because he doesn’t deserve that kind of flak on top of everything else.

    1. I would break into a combine or tractor’s cab, and start it with a tool if it was a sitting duck, in face of a wildfire, THEN worry about buying Mr. Farmer a new window, after giving him/her a tongue-lashing over endangerment, in the first place.

      Can we all say, “Combine lives matter!?”

    2. It wasn’t a mistake. Keys are seldom removed from farm equipment, and especially not during harvest. Fires are all too common and the first person on the scene has to be able to start the equipment in order to have a chance of saving it. Many of us have run into burning fields or sheds to save equipment, and will do it again if necessary. That can’t happen if the key is not there.

  15. Thank you to all the farmers who are working long hours with little sleep and probably a lot of breakdowns. The above is very well said and oh so true.

  16. Blaming the farmer?! Are you kidding me?? How about we stop making excuses for criminals who break the law and hold people accountable for their own idiotic behavior? I hope that farmer gets a brand spankin’ new machine out of this.

    1. Jill, I agree! I so tired of the criminals being the victims! Maybe, just maybe if society and those around the individuals held them accountable we would not have innocent police officers being killed and riots about “Black lives Matter”! All lives matter, no matter where you are from or the color of your skin. Thank you Caitlin for writing this.

  17. It’s not the farmers faukt. We farmers leave machinery in the fields all the time .who would think some idot would steal it .It’s just like stealing anything .Now the farmer is out of a combine and work time trying to get things cut on time .we are farmers leave things out too .Makes me think twice now .Good luck

  18. Well said Caitlin.

    I can’t understand why anyone would blame the farmer. Dare I say it, Must of been city folks posting, someone who has no idea of what it’s like to work sun up to sundown (if lucky) in the heat and rain to help put food on not only his table but the table of thousands of others.

    I’m from Southern California and I know how our local ag community comes together when we have fire storms, So I can only imagine that his community will be there to help him out. My prayers go out to the farmer that he has a successful harvest dispite this very unfortunate incident.

    I figure the guy who took the combine had to of been so drunk or high to think taking it would be a fast get away.

  19. Whatever happened to the idea you don’t go bothering or taking things that aren’t yours? The farmer didn’t invite anyone to inspect, let alone steal his harvesting equipment. And the thief would have known this combine wasn’t his to take. And so would you. And so would I. The blame is ALL on the thief.

  20. Well said, Caitlin. I’m a farmer’s wife in central Iowa. They do work hard – I’m not complaining – he’s doing the job he loves and I knew that from our first date on. Oh, he probably shouldn’t have left the key in the combine, BUT that doesn’t make it right for someone to steal it.

  21. Well said! No one understands the countless hours a farmer puts in day in and day out to feed such an ungrateful society. How much time away from their own family they spend to plant, harvest, etc. This time of year I can go days without seeing my husband, so that he can help supply food to the ungrateful ignorance that has become so common!

  22. This was a wonderful post! My dad has been a farmer all his life and I love him greatly for it. It is a lot of hard work, love, sweat & tears. Stupid people need to step back & realize where their food comes from. Thanks for a very respectful post.

  23. Really stop blaming farmers. I sure would like to see them throw the books at this Jack A. Don’t feed him anything but water and dog food. He ruined an expensive piece of equipment that that farmer needs now.

  24. All of the Kansas people know how to respond to this situation and we would trust them to do the right thing. One crazy person out of the millions will not cause us to change how we think.

    On the other hand…if we keep allowing Washington DC to think and make policy for us, this is the kind of logic we have to deal with.

    Keep the decision making for Kansas within Kansas.

  25. You know its just stupid news these days. It happened all he time when I was young in Western Kansas. Locks on Comines and tractors are jokes and starting one requires a screw driver to make contact with the stater. No key required. Yep I took a few to pull folks cars out mud or snow, but I always returned it with a Jackson in the cab by the control panel.

  26. We had someone steal our tractor and baler one year and drive it into a dugout. It is crazy to try to deal with the insurance companies and they ended up fixing it and the equipment was obviously never the same again. It is not the farmer’s fault at all, it is SAD that someone first of all TRESPASSED on the land, and then STOLE the equipment. RESPECT is a long lost art and more people should get some.

  27. I agree with your commentary. Anyone blaming the farmer, obviously does not leave in rural America. It’s time people had to take responsibility for what THEY do, not blame everyone else. Thanks for the essay.

  28. If a farmer took the keys out of every piece of machinery, pickup truck, truck etc on the farm they would have a key ring the size of a softball and it would weigh 15#. Not to mention the fact that the key would probably get lost or would not remember which vehicle it goes to. Grew up on a farm- the rule was never take the keys out cause the next person won’t have them and won’t have time to hunt you down for the key. The farmer is not to blame – the moron who stole the combine is to blame.

  29. Extremely well written article to get the point across. I feel terrible that this farmer is already out this huge loss and then is being called names and blamed that it’s his fault. That’s ridiculous. THANK YOU FARMERS for feeding the world!!

  30. Perfect example where the divide between city and country culture has become an unbridgeable divide…but I am sure that the farmer, the ultimate optimist, will keep trying while the other will continue tear down with words and destroy the image of the one that feeds them.

  31. My father is a 4th generation farmer who has been farming his entire life. He has had no other job than farming. He harvests 3,000 acres of corn and soybeans. He has never had any equipment stolen but has had tires flattened, windows broken, tool stolen in/on his combine, tractors, and other types of equipment. Even though we live in a farming county there are still people who don’t appreciate all that a farmer does which irritates me to know end. Hopefully this will change in time but I don’t think it will.

  32. Thank you for writing this. My father is a third generation dairy farmer and so many people do not understand the affect somethings like this will have on the farmer. The insurance company will probably pay but in reality, the farmer will probably be faced with higher premiums or loose the insurance all together. All because of some other persons reckless decisions.
    I appreciate you for writing this. Thank you!

  33. well this is America where we no longer make a person responsible for their own actions. the gun did or it’s his parents fault for being too hard on him. now we are going to blame the victim for the crime…

  34. Only time we ever pulled keys on our farm is if something was broke and it shouldn’t be started or moved. And the combine with the header probably wasn’t worth over $150,000, if that. It does suck for the farmer but there are always people to help in a farming communirt. Always. We had a versatile stolen with a chisel hooked up. Idiot ran it off s bridge and it’s never been right since. But we still don’t pull keys. Everyone involved is lucky to not be seriously injured. Could have been a lot worse!

  35. I Love this!!!!! Thank you for pointing out and saying what needs to be said. It blows me away how whenever something crazy or tragic happens there’s always those people who have rude remarks or side completely insanely! Thanks for posting

  36. My husband is a 4th generation farmer and this article is spot on. He never moves his equipment until the field is harvested. It’s not like you drive it home and park it until the next morning and drive it back. The real focus should have been on the moron who thought this was funny. How devastating to this farmer to lose your machine during harvest this way. I wish this farmer all the best and hope that fellow farmers in his community stepped up to help him out.

  37. I guess I am showing my age (and my machineries age too…but aren’t all keys the same for a brand of machinery? My daughter is a union operator…when she entered apprenticeship she got a big keyring with every machine manufacturers key.

  38. It is so ridiculous to blame the farmer. The only person to blame is the person who decided to steal it. Why anyone would blame the owner of a moving vehicle or anything else for that matter because a thief took it is looking at the world through hateful eyes. How about hating the acts of the thieves instead! They are the ones who chose to take something that wasn’t theirs! Seventh commandment–thou shalt not steal!

  39. Need to take the food away from all the “stupid farmer, doesn’t deserve insurance ” people….all of the food, and listen to them cry about how hungry they are. They are the ones who don’t deserve….unappreciative fools…aren’t any better than the idiot who stole the combine!

    1. Considering they are probably the same people that say hunters should just get their meat from a store rather than hurting the poor deer, I suspect they wouldn’t make the connection between their Big Macs and a farm.

  40. Bottom line: If is not yours, don’t take it. Even if the keys are in it. Even if the door is unlocked. Remember ‘Thou shall not steal.’? How much clearer can that be stated. Farmers, laborers, truck drivers, production factory workers, bookkeepers, grocery store clerks, and thousands more work hard to make a living and acquire things. Some things acquired for making a living, some acquired for enjoyment, but those things belong to them. Whether they lock their possessions in a building or inside our home, or even if they choose to leave them outside,those things are theirs. If someone takes them without permission – that’s called stealing. It’s a crime according to the laws of the land and according to the law of God. Great commentary Caitlin!

  41. Excuse me, the farmer is at fault! Who would say that when a criminal, drug, thug has stolen a combine. I am so thankful this happened in Kansas because in Oklahoma, speaking from personal experience, this is not a felony. Well actually it was my dad’s BRAND NEW JD combine. Never had a grain in it. Had been delivered to the bottom for less than 24 hours, way back in the bottoms at a place called Wild Cat. It was a half million dollar machine. They just moved it, no it did not have a key in it, but they got it started, ran the side of it into a self contained spray rig that cost at least 300K, broke the booms off and part, and then rammed the combine into a huge barn door. Now the barn door was valued at $5000 and that was the felony. This is a factual and true story. We knew exactly what kind of tires were on the vehicle, knew the name of all four of the criminals, one was a female and they charged the juvenile and when he turned 18 about six months later he was released from juvenile detention. It only did about $50,000 worth of damage to my dads brand new combine, the header was not on the combine at the time and they didn’t find it, but his combine will NEVER be the same. They have repaired and worked and it still has issues. My dad who was 76 at the time had just invested that amount of money in this equipment for our farm. Our farm property is 30 miles from our home and it would be absolutely impossible to drive this combine home as it takes up two complete lanes of the road. PEOPLE need to be taught to respect others property. If it is not yours don’t touch it, drive it, drive onto farm land, in fact just keep the thugs out of the farm land completely. They have no business there. The total damage done to the equipment that day was in excess of $100,000.00 and basically nothing was done to the criminals. I really hope that the individuals that blame the farmer for leaving his combine in the field have some thugs pull up to their house and go out back, use their grill, have a party, swim in their pool and leave beer cans everywhere. They can just go ahead and shoot out a few windows in your house too because you shouldn’t have left your grill outside in your yard, and windows are just an invitation to be shot out and broken. Seriously, this is exactly what is wrong with America! NO RESPECT!

    1. BALONEY!
      It’s called GRAND THEFT for a reason!
      Of course that IS a FELONY in all 50 states!
      Sorry to hear about your dad’s machinery.
      What happened there, was a sheer act of vandalism, by miscreant kids.
      It did not involve an actual heist or theft.
      They broke in, period.
      Locking up the barn and cabs, mattered not.
      They still broke and entered.

  42. We had a load of corn stolen out of the field last year. They took the semi, unloaded it and brought the semi back. People couldn’t figure out why we left the keys in it. This is NW KS no one pulls keys. Plus it was someone who knew where to look cause this field is way back off the road and can’t be seen from any of the main roads.

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