Forget converters, agricultural tractor weights, the latest theft craze

In the latest example of tractor weight theft, a Moses Lake man is charged with allegedly attempting to recycle a series of weights that authorities believe were stolen.

Man tries to recycle at least 39 stolen weights

For some time we have seen an increase in catalytic converter thefts in the Pacific Northwest and Washington State. They are fairly profitable to recycle. But with new focuses and laws restricting how they can be recycled, thieves are turning to another metal source: tractor weights.

They are used to allow tractors to pull heavier loads without the front end lifting off the ground. They vary in shape and size, the image we have in this story is of John Deere weights, these weigh 65 pounds each. Sometimes they are also called “suitcase” weights.

Recycling company calls deputy

On June 3, a Moses Lake Iron and Metal worker notified the Grant County Sheriff’s Office that Noe Mata had shown up at her facility with several of these weights on her back along with ring wire. However, he left without speaking to anyone and didn’t try to recycle his cargo – perhaps because he sensed they were hot on his heels.

Mata had previously recycled some materials at the facility.

Five days later, deputies found 39 such stolen weights, along with other materials, in his Toyota pickup through a search warrant. Mata offered to return them, but his truck was impounded as part of the investigation. Authorities also found what they said were “user amounts” of meth in the vehicle. He will face a number of charges in connection with this incident.

Farmers in the area have been keeping a close eye on their equipment lately as this weight-stealing rash is spreading quickly.

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