September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Two SE MN dairies burglarized

Johnsons, Smith deal with stolen computers
Mark Johnson sits in the office where two computers were stolen the night of Aug. 28. Johnson and his family milk 1,000 cows on their farm, Johnson Rolling Acres, near Peterson, Minn. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY KRISTA KUZMA
Mark Johnson sits in the office where two computers were stolen the night of Aug. 28. Johnson and his family milk 1,000 cows on their farm, Johnson Rolling Acres, near Peterson, Minn. <br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY KRISTA KUZMA

By By Krista Kuzma- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

RUSHFORD, Minn. - Mark Johnson and Dean Smith both thought their farms were secure places; however, the night of Aug. 28 showed them they could be taking extra precautions.
Two computers were stolen from the office at the dairy, Johnson Rolling Acres, where Johnson and his family milk 1,000 cows near Peterson, Minn. That same night, another computer was stolen from Dean Smith's farm, D & D Dairy, north of Rushford, Minn.
"It had to be someone who knew both places - here and Johnsons," Smith said.
From piecing together parts of the night with employees, Johnson knows the thief came sometime after 10 p.m. The evening milkers were in the parlor and saw a vehicle drive in. It was the same color as the herdsman's.
"They assumed it was him (the herdsman) and didn't think anything of it," Johnson said.
But Johnson thinks it was the intruder. That person came into the office, right outside the parlor where cows were being milked, and stole two computers containing cow information on Dairy Comp 305 and other farm records including their manure management plan.
The Johnsons didn't realize the computers were missing until the next morning.
"When my nephew, Trinity, came the next morning at 5:30, the cows weren't sorted. He went into the office to check the computers and saw they were gone," Johnson said.
The burglar had also unplugged the cords to the camera, which showed activity in the barn and parlor, and stole money out of the refrigerator where employees could buy sandwiches and pay through an honor system.
The Johnsons reported the crime to the authorities, who visited the farm, but they found no leads.
About 10 miles away, Smith also woke up the morning of Aug. 29 to find missing items, which were taken from one of two farmsites at D & D Dairy where 300 of the 940 cows are milked. It also is the farm where Smith lives. Employees were milking in their parlor, not far from the office where the items were stolen.
"Why would someone steal something here when they knew I was right in the house?" Smith said.
The next morning Smith was missing a computer tower containing the farm's activity monitoring system and a prepaid phone.
"It's odd that nothing else was stolen," Smith said.
The monitors were still in place along with another computer. Smith also had vehicles outside that night. Although the authorities were unsuccessful in finding any leads to the thief, Smith has contacted the company where they bought the computer. If that computer is hooked into the Internet, they will know its location.
"It's almost a kick in the you-know-what that someone would take your info so you don't have it," Smith said. "There were several months of breeding information lost."
Although Smith lost his information, the Johnsons were fortunate that each computer had been backed up.
Each dairy ordered new computers right away to get back up and running. During those few days without them, the dairies had to deal with things a little differently. The Johnsons couldn't check daily milk weights and had extra work sorting cows instead of using their auto sort system.
"When you're used to doing it on a computer, it's an inconvenience when you don't have it," Johnson said.
Smith had to walk the barn three times a day to find cows in heat.
"In this time frame, breeding isn't good. It's not that big of a deal," Smith said. "If they had taken our other computer, which has all our cow records, we would be screwed."
Since the burglaries, Johnson and Smith have taken extra precautions to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Smith now locks the office door every night. The Johnsons do the same.
"It's never been a factor for us to lock the door. Now we lock the door at night," Johnson said.
The Johnsons are also in the process of adding more cameras to their security system. Several of the Johnsons will be able to check the security system at any time from their phone.
"Everyone is always in and out of the dairy," Johnson said. "I never thought this could happen to us."
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