Farmer believes canola thieves had detailed plan

Well-organized heist | 1,400 bushels of canola were stolen from Randy Syvenky’s farm in March

A truckload of canola stolen from a grain bin has left Randy Syvenky disappointed yet motivated to catch the thieves.

About 1,400 bushels of No.1 canola worth $15,000 were recently augered from one of his hopper-bottomed bins in northeastern Edmonton.

Syvenky’s yard, which is located within city limits, contains several 2,000 bu. hopper- bottomed grain bins. On March 19, he discovered that the gates to the yard had been opened, the snow plowed and the canola missing.

Syvenky thinks the canola was stolen the night of March 11. He recalls seeing a grain auger parked at the Horse Hill elementary school three kilometres west of his bins.

He thought at the time that it was unusual for a farmer to leave the auger parked there but chalked it up to a flat tire.

Based on the amount of organization involved, Syvenky thinks the grain heist was carried out by a farmer. He also said the brazen act has been done more than once.

“It’s obviously somebody with knowledge of the farm and has their own equipment,” he said.

“They seemed organized, like they’ve done it before.”

Syvenky thinks it took at least two people and five pieces of machinery to carry out the theft.

The metal gates were opened and 30 metres of snow were cleared from the road, probably using a skid steer. The cleared area was wide enough for a 40 foot triple axle truck to turn around.

Syvenky said he found a pile of canola under the hopper bottom and a trail of canola left behind by the auger.

He said the thieves obviously targeted the canola because many of the other bins contained wheat.

He said Edmonton city police have little knowledge of farming and no experience with stolen grain. As a result, Syvenky has turned part sleuth and is researching other incidents of grain theft as he conducts his own investigation.

He thinks organizations such as the Canola Council of Canada should maintain a database on grain thefts.

“I’ve been trying to research other thefts to try and link them together but I’m having a hard time,” he said.

He has contacted several RCMP rural detachments to notify them of the case in the event of similar incidents.

Syvenky has also asked the managers of seven local elevators to look back through their delivery records for canola shipments of less than 1,400 bu. and keep an eye out for anything suspicious.

“If I don’t do this little bit of groundwork on my own, then well, it’s not going to get done and then there’s zero chance of catching them. Maybe now there’s a one percent chance,” he said.

Syvenky has also posted a sign at the bin site on the busy Manning Freeway offering a reward for information.

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