Barnyard burglary under investigation

Last week an Ashland-area farm experienced a huge loss but it wasn’t with their crops. More than 28 animals were stolen from the Hanover Plant and Vegetable Farm between the night of Nov. 9 and the morning of Nov. 10.

A pig commingles with cattle at Hanover Plant and Vegetable Farm, where 28 animals were recently stolen.

A pig commingles with cattle at Hanover Plant and Vegetable Farm, where 28 animals were recently stolen.

Because the farm is open to the public, more than just the farm and its staff are impacted; the farm is licensed to receive school field trips.

“That’s what’s been taken — is what the public will enjoy,” said Whitnie Clements, the office manager.

Clements and the rest of the staff are baffled because the reason for their animals’ sudden disappearance is still unknown.

“It’s not like they got out and they’re around the farm somewhere,” Clements said.

She added that when feeding time came around the morning of Nov. 10 and the animals were nowhere to be found, the coop door was closed and the fence was in tact.

At first, Clements said staff suspected coyotes attacked the animals, but there was no evidence to support that theory.

Currently the Hanover Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft case.

Capt. Michael J. Trice said that chickens, turkeys, ducks, a peacock and chicken food were taken from the farm’s fenced coop. All of their rabbits except for one were also snatched up.

Because there are no leads on the case, there is not a lot that can be done, Clements said.

None of the enclosures have locks. Clements said there has not been a need for latches for any of the pens.

Ideally, the farm would like to find their animals, but Clements said a number of citizens offered to donate animals in efforts to replace the ones that were stolen. As a result, the farm has accumulated almost all of the animals they had before.

Though, there will be some difficulty finding another peacock and turkey without shelling out a lot of money, Clements said.

Since the farm’s staff announced the animals were missing, they’ve received great responses from the community.

A Facebook status about the theft reached more than 27,000 people and 343 different people reposted it. Clements said all the feedback has made her realize the impact they’ve had on the community.

She and the rest of the staff are overwhelmed by the outreach.

“It’s unbelievable to be quite honest with you,” Clements said.

Anyone with information regarding the animal thefts is encouraged to call Hanover Vegetable Farm at (804) 752-2334 and the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office at (804) 365-6140 or the Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-100.

Posted on Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 9:20 am